On June 5, 1944, the day before the D-Day operation in which the Allied forces in World War II invaded German-occupied western Europe, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his 29th Fireside Chat. Roosevelt told the American people that Rome had fallen to American and Allied troops the previous day. He used the talk not only to announce this important milestone in the deadly war, but also to remind Americans they were engaged in a war between democracy and fascism. And while fascists insisted their ideology made countries more efficient and able to serve their people, the Allies’ victory in Rome illustrated that the ideology of fascism, which maintained that a few men should rule over the majority of the population, was hollow.
Any relationship between what FDR said and the facts about the "fall" of Rome were coincidence, as are the "facts" in any war while it's on.
The fact was that by "liberating" Rome, we extended the war in Italy a year. But General Moron Mark Clark's ego wouldn't let him avoid it. So while the original plan was for Lucian Truscott's Sixth Army to push out of the Anzio beachhead and smash the German Fourteenth Army then head southeast to join up with the British Eighth Army south of Rome and "bag" the German Tenth Army that was in retreat from the Rapido following the breakthrough at Monte Cassino (after three bloody tries before), thus ending the German Wehrmacht in Italy, Clark ordered Truscott to move north and "take" Rome (which was an open city, no Germans there). While Clark was having his victory parade in Rome, the Tenth Army marched around Rome to the east, while the Fourteenth Army retreated up the west side of Italy. They were chased by the Allied armies until they got to the Appenines, where they moved into the already-prepared Gothic Line in July and held out till the end of April 1945. And all of that could have been avoided if Mark Clark hadn't been an egomaniac who was so crazy he asked Eisenhower to delay D-Day two weeks so the liberation of Rome could be "properly celebrated." (Eisenhower's reply was never made public, but those who saw it said he departed from his usual "diplomatic language")
General Truscott was so upset by it that when he spoke at the opening of the American cemetery at Nettuno at the end of the war, he turned away from the crowd and spoke to the graveyard, and apologized to anyone there who had died because he hadn't told Mark Clark to go to hell when he got the order to "liberate" Rome.
Yeah, I wrote a book about all this, "The Bridgebusters: the True Story of the Catch-22 Bomb Wing". Fucking generals are mostly morons; the good ones are the minority.
Why do so many Americans embrace the fascist/oligarchs that now control the republican party? Do they not understand that they are actually supporting the corporations and billionaires who pay those in office, and they will be the next to lose their liberties (vote) and rights (guns), and freedoms (speech)?
Once again, an example of how a scholar and public intellectual like Heather can use history to illuminate the present. With Lincoln and Roosevelt, the USA was on the right side of history. I believe that this is the case with Biden as well. Putin's weaknesses - and the weaknesses of authoritarianism- are becoming more visible every day. Threatening Russians with a 15 year sentence if they dare call what's happening in Ukraine a war is not a sign of strength- it is a sign of desperation.
Do not be distracted by the resistance of the Ukrainian people to Russian totalitarianism as a sign that the autocratic minority in the U.S. have rethought, and changed, their drive toward political control. Though they are a practical minority, they have succeeded in rigging the electoral processes in a sufficient number of states to guarantee control of the government for years into the future. They have an active plan for upsetting any presidential election results that they find adverse to them. It is a mistake to believe that the sudden awakening of many parts of the world to the importance of liberal democracy is a harbinger of improvement in conditions in the U.S. We are headed to a period of extremist autocracy in this country and it is, in my view, now too late to escape it.
But let us not forget, that America has behaved in a "Putinesque" manner many times in the past - and has to be incredibly adroit in avoiding the charges of hypocrisy. These exploits (pushed by the Chicago School Of Economics - under Milton Friedman)- resulted in the imposition of Pinochet in Chile, and equal horrors in Indonesia, Venezuela etc, to support neoliberalism. Maybe things have changed - we can only hope. (Read Shock Doctrine - Naomi Klein).
A fascinating read, Heather. Thank you so much for the critical historic elements.
Putin's blatant lies remind me of those of the GOP and tfg, should they regain power -- which, in turn, recall the words of Simone Weil:
"Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others."
UKRAINE, GAS, & ‘AMERICAN PATRIOTS’
PREDICTION: Within a month the Republicans and their ‘American patriot’ entourage will be more vocal on the price of gas than on Putin and the dastardly catastrophe that he has inflicted on Ukraine and on countless Ukrainian citizens.
Such distinguished ‘patriots’ as Cruz, DeSantis, and Graham, no longer bromancing with Putin, will excoriate President Biden for this ‘this totally unacceptable gas situation,’ while wrapping themselves in the American flag.
What’s happened to Trump’s bromance with ‘genius’ Putin? Does he still take Putin’s word over the assessment of the US intelligence community?
After over three decades of covering Russia, I leave in despair
Russia will have a hard time doing anything with the Airbus and Boeing air fleets. Russia has no commercial aviation industry, and all the Russian-language repair and technical bulletins and manuals are online only. No downlink to Russia from Boeing and Airbus means aircraft will soon be out of safety compliance. It's questionable if pilots will even be able to start their engines.
I recall when FDR, on January 6, 1941, proposed four fundamental freedoms that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:
1) Freedom of speech
2) Freedom of worship
3) Freedom from want
4) Freedom from fear
I believe that President Biden heartily affirmed these Four Freedoms in his immediate and unflagging riposte to Putin’s calumny in Ukraine.
Thank you, Professor! This stands out! “In 1944, FDR pointed out that democratic government was messy but it freed its people to work and think and fight in ways that authoritarian governments could not.” The war in Ukraine is about Democracy and freedom, both ideals Putin denies his own people and is trying to destroy in Ukraine, yet they remain with the Ukrainians who are valiantly holding on to their democracy even as the war, loss and destruction are raging. Hoping other Democracies, NATO, can provide enough assistance to save and help rebuild Ukraine. The price the Ukrainian people are paying in loss of life and land is heartbreaking. What will remain when the fighting finally ends is a big question.
" -, Chinese president Xi Jinping believes that autocracies are “the wave of the future—democracy can’t function in an ever complex world.”" Isn't that just the point: Autocrats are always tempted to take shortcuts in complexity, rather than seeing and acting on the complexity. From Alexander the great and on; cutting the knot was not a solution. - "In the long run, it is not possible to grow by making someone else smaller (Bert Hellinger)."
I was born in 1948 in a hospital where my mom worked two blocks from my home. I remember it well. But I was unaware of how desperate people of color in the South were for doctors and health care. Perhaps health care in the USA wasn't much better in the decade before WWII than in Italy. In fact, when I googled health care in the USA, I found: 1932:
"The United States Public Health Service begins the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which withholds medical treatment for syphilis from black American males. The experiment finally ends in 1972." If this is an example of the situation in the USA, how could FDR criticise Italy?
Thank you Heather -
I’m so very grateful that Biden and his administration are functioning today as FDR did close to 80 years ago. That Putin is hellbent on destroying Ukraine’s culture is horrifying. He - and his corrupted cronies - must be stopped, arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned.
“Russians following Stalinist playbook in occupied Ukraine: arrest intellectuals, artists, curators, leaders. Decapitate society. They did it in 1933, they will do it in 2022. History repeats itself.”
· Mar 10
first house searches and first arrests of Crimean-Tatars in the occupied territories adjacent to Crimea. The first to be arrested is Leila Ibragimova, director of Melitopol History museum.”
MSNBC's Ali Velshi, is reporting from a live camera at a frigid train station in Budapest where some arriving Ukranian Refugees are traveling on to Spain and other safe countries. For some Ukranians interviewed, it is a Round Trip -- secure Family vunerable members then back to Ukraine to help fight for what one very young woman called "humanity in crisis".
“in spite of the tinsel at the top…their economic condition had grown steadily worse. Our troops have found starvation, malnutrition, disease, a deteriorating education and lowered public health—all by-products of the Fascist misrule.” What Americans need to stop denying is that this is what other countries find here now…starvation, malnutrition, a deteriorating education and lowered public health… Who’s got a Marshal Plan for us? How can we rise up to save our democracy? A million people dead from a virus, countless more with long-term health issues…and systems are already positioned to deny care. Teachers burning out. Children are homeless. We’re suffering from fascism here too.