Drifting even further off topic ...
I disagree, quite strongly, with the whole Psychology of Military Incompetence
thesis. Neither Percival (Singapore) nor Maltby (Hong Kong) were incompetent, neither was even a "bad" general; neither did what was
hoped but both were faced with extraordinary situations that, simply, got the better of them. Singapore was well designed to be defended ... from the sea, but the Japanese didn't follow London's plan; Hong Kong was not designed (or manned) for any kind of defence, but
explanations are necessary for the mothers and Percival and Maltby were blamed. Don't get me wrong: neither did as well as he might have, perhaps could have, but neither was anything like incompetent.
My favourite in the psychology of military incompetence
rubbish is Haig. He was a good, solid, perhaps a tiny bit too stolid
general who told his political masters the unvarnished truth; when the situation unfolded as he suggested it would the politicians, and the people - perhaps especially the Canadian people, looked around for someone to blame. There was plenty of blame - most of it in Paris, but Haig was unpopular: blunt, apparently unfeeling in an era that had begun to migrate towards Bill Clinton and "I feel your pain" - and so the blame settled on him. He wasn't a bad general; he just had a lousy press agent.
is that most modern generals, begining with, say, Bernard Montgomery and Maxwell Taylor, lack "bottom:" that mix of robustness, stoicism, honesty and courage (physical and moral) that one needs to make hard decisions, give brutal orders and get up the next morning to do it all again. Looking at our generations, people like William Westmorland and David Petraeus seem to me
more like puff pasty, play actors sent to reassure the people that "there is light at the end of the tunnel." I have a great deal of trouble putting e.g. Petraeus on the same intellectual or professional plane as, say, Wavell. Petraeus and most others seem smart
, in a very media savy way, but not tough and not, really, intelligent. Where is a modern Wavell to tell us about generalship
or a modern Haig to tell us, bluntly, how this long, long war will unfold?
Amongst Canadians I will reaffirm that we only ever produced one great
commander: Leonard W Murray - head and shoulders the best Canadian to ever wear a lot of gold on his cap. Murray is the only Canadian to have ever made a significant contribution, at the highest levels, to an allied victory. (Arthur Currie was a good combat commander but he commanded just one of dozens of corps on the Western Front; a case can be made that Robert Leckie and few other senior RCAF officers made a vital contribution to victory through the British Commonwealth Air Traing Plan - and they did, but it's not in the same league as Murray and the Battle of the Atlantic.) But Murray probably was, according to the psychology of military incomeptence
theorists, incompetent. Why? Because he was very unpopular - with his colleagues in Ottawa and with his political masters. Why? He told them the truth: a harsh, unvarnished truth about how tough the most important strategic battle in the history of the British Enpire was going to be; and because he didn't suffer fools at all, and Ottawa was full of them - Mackenzie King, Andrew McNaughton and Percy Nelles (Chief of the Naval Staff) amongst them. In fact it was Murray's unpopularity, not his operational ability or acumen that caused his downfall as soon as the war was safely won. Why was he good? Why was he unmpopular? Same reasons: he was tough, choleric, honest and brave but also blunt and very private, perhaps even shy. In any event he was our best ever and he simply doesn't fit the pyschology of military incompetence
model, neither would the Duke of Wellington, or George C Marshall I suspect
; I conclude the model is wrong.Edit: spelling