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OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 2:27:55 AM   
Footslogger


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What are your thoughts about General Stillwell as a commander?

I have heard little of this General. Why?

Post #: 1
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 2:37:25 AM   
RangerJoe


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He really was not in the field. He was more of a paper pusher. He had too many jobs in my opinion and I don't know if he had delegated any authority.

_____________________________

Seek peace but keep your gun handy.

I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!

“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child


(in reply to Footslogger)
Post #: 2
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 3:00:19 AM   
Footslogger


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The reason for this question is the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBNZqC3h_Y4


(in reply to RangerJoe)
Post #: 3
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 3:21:28 AM   
Fishbed

 

Posts: 1810
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From: Beijing, China - Paris, France
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Well for a paper pusher he sure marched a lot ^^

Always disliked him, being more of a Chennault fan myself. He was a terrible choice in terms of inter-ally relationships, but then again seeing the egos at work, including on the Chinese and the British side, it would have taken quite the man to please everybody. But in that regard I never fell victim to any sort of pro-Stillwell propaganda. I suspect Americans would be more affected in that regard than us Europeans were, considering the glamour Chennault (and Miss Chiang) enjoyed and the relative obscurity in which Stillwell fell together with the whole CBI anyway. I mean, the guy ran, was nicknamed "Vinegar", he would have a dirty nickname for everybody, how would you expect any PR to save him once you step outside of the Cold War narrative?

In regard of his bigotry he wasn't special at that time anyway. Washington was full of people who didn't give a damn about the potential of some of their allies (everybody knows what Admiral King thought about the British - not to mention the view others had of the Nationalists) he just happened to be thrown in the fray and served as well as he could considering the odds and the conditions. And at the very least, although the British never really enjoyed his trust or praise, he was ready to give his Chinese troops a chance despite the very low opinion he had of Chiang as an ally - which kinda makes him special and a bit less of an ar*e.

< Message edited by Fishbed -- 8/18/2019 3:25:42 AM >

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Post #: 4
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 3:23:28 AM   
SuluSea


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Barbara Tuchmann wrote glowing reports on him in her book , The American Experience in China 1910-1949. General Stillwell was a big reason the Chinese units were trained but also fought in Burma. He saw right through Chiang Kai-Shek and wasn't afraid to make his feelings known which led to friction of course. Stillwell was a gifted field general and his contribution to the overall war effort was vastly underrated and unappreciated by some

< Message edited by SuluSea -- 8/18/2019 3:28:22 AM >

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RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 3:59:51 AM   
RangerJoe


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He also spoke at least one kind of Chinese language.

_____________________________

Seek peace but keep your gun handy.

I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!

“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child


(in reply to SuluSea)
Post #: 6
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 4:03:42 AM   
mrchuck


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Interesting take by mihivi.
Normally their stuff is pretty good, this time not so much. There is no doubt he was a very unpleasant fellow, but he was still 100% on the money about the state of the KMT government. This isn't Cold War baggage; the evidence is right there in the outcome in 1949. Not sure why all this revisionism about Stilwell. Just because he was a complete bastard, so what? Since when is generalling a popularity contest? Since when are generals all great guys that you'd love to have a drink with?
I also don't agree with the criticisms of Stilwell's theatre command and ICHI-GO. By this time (mid 1944), Stilwell must have concluded that he would never have real command authority over the bulk of the Chinese Army, since his orders would be routinely ignored or disobeyed. Also, due to the power structure inside the KMT state, you could argue there was no real central command anyway, just many more or less autonomous forces, more or less pursuing similar objectives.

So he focused on what he actually could influence in Burma. Not extremely professional--he should probably have asked to be relieved--but certainly pragmatic. It's not like Chiang was running a really good government, which the American interloper had no reason to criticise.

And anyway, the worst US general of WW2 was of course Lloyd Fredendall of Kasserine fame. No contest I would think. Only the courage of the troops (and British assistance) stopped this from being a complete disaster.

(in reply to Footslogger)
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RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 4:10:47 AM   
Ian R

 

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Stillwell worked well enough with Slim when the latter took command of 14th Army, and with Wingate before his death. It was the mediocre middle managers he didn't like.

I generally use him (and Chennault) in the SWPAC. There are a couple of decent Chinese generals with numbers in the 50s who can handle NCAC, and less flamboyant HQ leaders with good air & admin ratings (Brett, Parker, Bissell etc) who can handle 14th Airforce. Reading Alfred's posts on leader attributes, it does not appear they have much influence (if any at all) on HQ functions anyway.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Alfred

I have said it before on several occasions, and repeat it again now. The only really important leader traits are:


  • LCU - land
  • TF - air for CV TF, naval for all other TFs
  • air unit - air


All the other traits are so deeply embedded within the under the hood algorithms that it is basically pointless for a player to fret over them. As a tie breaker, those other traits can be used on the basis that a high delta is useful, bearing in mind where the manual provides hints as to the use of those other traits.

Alfred


_____________________________

"You may find that having is not so nearly pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."
- Cdr Spock


Ian R

(in reply to SuluSea)
Post #: 8
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 8:20:09 AM   
HansBolter


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+1


quote:

ORIGINAL: SuluSea

Barbara Tuchmann wrote glowing reports on him in her book , The American Experience in China 1910-1949. General Stillwell was a big reason the Chinese units were trained but also fought in Burma. He saw right through Chiang Kai-Shek and wasn't afraid to make his feelings known which led to friction of course. Stillwell was a gifted field general and his contribution to the overall war effort was vastly underrated and unappreciated by some



_____________________________

Hans


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Post #: 9
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 11:06:26 AM   
Fishbed

 

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Come on. It is true he saw through them, but seriously, who didn't? And more importantly, how was that his job as an officer? This man just didn't know his place.

Granted, maybe you could say the same about Chennault, but if Chennault hardly knew his place in the military, he still certainly knew his way in politics. Him and Vinegar Joe were like fire and water in that sense. Chennault, despite not being much of a model soldier, still found a way to accommodate figures like Miss Chiang, Chiang himself or naturally the Roosevelts. Stillwell sure had powerful friends at the top of the Army hierarchy, but he forgot that wherever you are, the army comes only second after political leadership, be it corrupt or weak like Chiang's regime certainly was.

He was some sort of a lunatic genius. He was proficient in several languages (actually those I speak, I can only respect him all the more for that ), certainly a great soldier, but was one of the worst persons to have ever walked this Earth. In every respect he was a good logistician, and an able commander. But everything else he did ended up casting a terrible shadow on his acknowledged talents - for a reason. Someone mentioned Fredendall - well, in many ways, I will go as far as saying that casting Stillwell for the CBI was as bad a mistake as casting Fredendall for a combat assignment. Doesn't mean he was a bad general, he was just the worst person for the job.

Stillwell obviously thought he was sent to China like Commodore Perry was sent to Japan in its time, as some sort of plenipotentiary pro-consul whose job were to "make things right". He exhibited pretty much all the signs of an imperialistic bigot, who was bringing the light while seeing his duty as some sort of white man's burden. In other times, that could have worked, but in 1942, as Roosevelt's envoyé, this was simply not what was expected from him. He didn't approve of the people he was asked to serve. Hell, he didn't approve of his own administration at home. Everything he wrote at the time show how little he thought of them all, whether they were Chinese Nationalists, Brits or even Democrats.

What should have been a natural choice given his proficiency in Chinese ended up being the worst of all. He talked, read and wrote the language, but only as a weapon to belittle and bypass his political partners. Chinese was to him a tool devoid of all the culture that was supposed to come with it, and that others (like Chennault, or even Wedemeyer) ended up apprehending better. He never tried to build a trustworthy relationship with the Chiang, or to try to make the best of the political situation. He just wasn't a man of compromise, in that regard he's a bit of a Patton - but nobody ever asked Patton to be the US military liaison to Churchill or De Gaulle, and this is where the main mistake probably was.

All in all, he is no stranger to the overall weakening of the Chiang's regime reputation, and the ruckus he contributed to cause certainly also had a role in the dislike Truman himself developed for the Nationalists, accelerating the fall of the regime over lack of US support. It is up to you decide if the way History unraveled was the best course, naturally, but I see Stilwell's service in China as one of the most complete duds of the theater. And the whole CBI did have some duds, truly! =

< Message edited by Fishbed -- 8/18/2019 11:33:04 AM >

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Post #: 10
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 5:12:47 PM   
geofflambert


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Chiang was as corrupt as they come, even by today's standards. Stilwell wanted badly to work with the Communists because he knew they would fight. He wasn't allowed to, of course.

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RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 5:44:44 PM   
SuluSea


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Fishbed

Come on. It is true he saw through them, but seriously, who didn't? And more importantly, how was that his job as an officer? This man just didn't know his place.

It was Stilwell's job to expose the corruption he witnessed American assets not being used in the spirit they were allocated by Congress. as an American Officer his duty was not only to the President but also military and American people.
Often it's easier to be quiet than expose something.

quote:


Granted, maybe you could say the same about Chennault, but if Chennault hardly knew his place in the military, he still certainly knew his way in politics. Him and Vinegar Joe were like fire and water in that sense. Chennault, despite not being much of a model soldier, still found a way to accommodate figures like Miss Chiang, Chiang himself or naturally the Roosevelts. Stillwell sure had powerful friends at the top of the Army hierarchy, but he forgot that wherever you are, the army comes only second after political leadership, be it corrupt or weak like Chiang's regime certainly was.
Rarely are good military men good politicians or vice/versa. I respect Chennault's contributions to the theatre but I do question his motives of undermining Stilwell not to mention his theory on air power staying the Japanese or better.
quote:



He was some sort of a lunatic genius. He was proficient in several languages (actually those I speak, I can only respect him all the more for that ), certainly a great soldier, but was one of the worst persons to have ever walked this Earth. In every respect he was a good logistician, and an able commander. But everything else he did ended up casting a terrible shadow on his acknowledged talents - for a reason. Someone mentioned Fredendall - well, in many ways, I will go as far as saying that casting Stillwell for the CBI was as bad a mistake as casting Fredendall for a combat assignment. Doesn't mean he was a bad general, he was just the worst person for the job.

I only speak one language and struggle with that.

quote:


Stillwell obviously thought he was sent to China like Commodore Perry was sent to Japan in its time, as some sort of plenipotentiary pro-consul whose job were to "make things right". He exhibited pretty much all the signs of an imperialistic bigot, who was bringing the light while seeing his duty as some sort of white man's burden. In other times, that could have worked, but in 1942, as Roosevelt's envoyé, this was simply not what was expected from him. He didn't approve of the people he was asked to serve. Hell, he didn't approve of his own administration at home. Everything he wrote at the time show how little he thought of them all, whether they were Chinese Nationalists, Brits or even Democrats.

No opinion on this because I didn't know him personally and I'm not infallible myself. Present company excluded because I don't know you personally I've witnessed complaints of racism many times only to see the same people partake in it. So I'm hesitant to play the progressive labelling of past historical figures or rewriting their legacy because they said or wrote unkind things.... I'm more interested in their historical actions.
quote:


What should have been a natural choice given his proficiency in Chinese ended up being the worst of all. He talked, read and wrote the language, but only as a weapon to belittle and bypass his political partners. Chinese was to him a tool devoid of all the culture that was supposed to come with it, and that others (like Chennault, or even Wedemeyer) ended up apprehending better. He never tried to build a trustworthy relationship with the Chiang, or to try to make the best of the political situation.
It's probable He didn't want to be a pawn for a political opportunist
quote:


All in all, he is no stranger to the overall weakening of the Chiang's regime reputation, and the ruckus he contributed to cause certainly also had a role in the dislike Truman himself developed for the Nationalists, accelerating the fall of the regime over lack of US support. It is up to you decide if the way History unraveled was the best course, naturally, but I see Stilwell's service in China as one of the most complete duds of the theater. And the whole CBI did have some duds, truly! =

although I don't agree with all the points your rebuttals have been enjoyable to read. Have a great one!😊

< Message edited by SuluSea -- 8/18/2019 6:09:24 PM >

(in reply to Fishbed)
Post #: 12
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 6:46:05 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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For what I have read, he was an excellent troop trainer,

as a military command, he was so-so at most. Yes Tuchman was enthusiastic about him but other books, written from a Chinese perspective, are a lot less impressed with him; try "Forgotten Ally" from Rana Mitter. I think he lost big in Burma, Toungoo to be specific.

as a diplomat he was a disaster


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RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 7:00:24 PM   
RangerJoe


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I remember reading about how he ordered his Chinese units to press forward when they could have cut off, trapped, and help destroy Japanese forces in northern Burma. Instead they held back, apparently on orders from Chiang. Stilwell was furious but could do nothing. It seemed to him that he was trying to save his Army for the war after the war.

_____________________________

Seek peace but keep your gun handy.

I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!

“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child


(in reply to Jorge_Stanbury)
Post #: 14
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 8:15:26 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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so he wanted his demoralized, half starved, poorly equipped Chinese troops to press against the ever-victorious (up until then) Japanese

I can't blame the Generalissimo to be conservative with his troops, after all that was one of his few bargaining chips left,

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RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 8:30:10 PM   
Canoerebel


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Stillwell was gifted in many ways and apparently a jerk across the board. He was contemptuous of the Chinese and British. He fed exhausted, disabled men into battle. But he was an equal opportunity tyrant. He treated Merrill's Marauders the same way. After the war, one of the Marauders noted that he'd had his sights on Stillwell, could've taken the shot, and everybody would've thought it was a Japanese sniper. I don't think any of his troops, American, Chinese, British, Indian, Burmese, appreciated the way he used and abused his men.

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RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/18/2019 9:32:50 PM   
RangerJoe


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Those troops that I am referring to had been equipped by the Americans. He also had the Chinese troops that had been cut off and had retreated into Burma equipped and trained. I believe that these were the troops. The point in time that I am referring to was the 1944 offensives in Burma, which was the last area to be supplied by the UK and Commonwealth.

_____________________________

Seek peace but keep your gun handy.

I'm not a complete idiot, some parts are missing!

“Illegitemus non carborundum est (“Don’t let the bastards grind you down”).”
― Julia Child


(in reply to Canoerebel)
Post #: 17
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 12:36:40 AM   
jagsdomain

 

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He did hold the line so in that case he was good. His after war politics lead to the problem in India that we have today.
War Gen he was fine but should never have been left alone after that.

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Post #: 18
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 4:26:07 AM   
Fishbed

 

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From: Beijing, China - Paris, France
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quote:

ORIGINAL: SuluSea

It was Stilwell's job to expose the corruption he witnessed American assets not being used in the spirit they were allocated by Congress. as an American Officer his duty was not only to the President but also military and American people.
Often it's easier to be quiet than expose something.


Well, I have the opinion it certainly wasn't, and that's the whole problem with this assignment. He had other people whose job was to report to the President and the United States on these issues, that's the role of the State department. That was the difference between his job as THE military cog in the machine and, say, Patrick Hurley's mission as the President's special envoy. In that quality, Hurley was there again everything Stillwell wasn't. As a Republican he could still put his partisanship and ideology in a little box for the duration of the war and serve his country and president with no afterthought. You could say that Stillwell was a straight man when it came to do what he believed in, but at a certain point if it means sabotaging your own country's influence in a struggling allied nation, maybe it's not really worth it - or maybe you're just not the right guy for the job.


quote:


Rarely are good military men good politicians or vice/versa. I respect Chennault's contributions to the theatre but I do question his motives of undermining Stilwell not to mention his theory on air power staying the Japanese or better.

The main reason why Chennault would undermine Stillwell was because Stillwell was undermining Chiang. It is the result of some sort of toxic love triangle that ended up exploding in the face of everybody and make everybody a loser - Stillwell, when he got relieved, but even Chiang in the long run.

Let's make it simple: Chennault was in a relationship that he deemed productive with the Chiangs. He was getting as much as he could from this relationship, and through this channel the sort of support that mattered on the ground, especially in terms of logistics (that is, support Stillwell would refuse him to a certain extent). It doesn't matter if Chennault got 15% of what could be expected from the Chiangs, and often had his plans or requests kindly rejected or ignored. These 15% mattered to him and to his plans, and were accounted for in his larger scheme. Chennault knew what to ask for, he knew what the Generalissimo's worries were made of and why he had them, and it is not because he chose to make the most of his political ally that he ended up bombing Communist troops (at least not then...). He didn't care about the rest (the KMT corruption, the warlords, etc...) because he would rather have his 15% in a corrupted world lead by Chiang than 0% in a place gone bonkers. To him, he had a valuable asset in Chiang and thought this relationship could only be improved overtime. And in hindsight, this approach makes perfect sense considering what befell the KMT (or Vietnam, or whatever, examples are aplenty) once ideology replaced realpolitik in D.C.

Then you have Vinegar Joe, who came to the personal realization that trying to get his own 15% was worthless if he could simply get more by removing Chiang from the business all-together (after all, he spoke Chinese and all, didn't he). To the point it wasn't just about removing Chiang from the management of his own troops, but openly plot the involvement of whom the said Chiang considered to be his true adversaries for the future. His approach as such was in direct conflict with that of Chennault and in retrospect not unlike what you'd imagine about a very loudmouthed, cowboy-like caricature of an American soldier (again, Patton comes to mind - and there again, being loud doesn't mean you're dumb at all, but it somewhat hampers your ability to move up the chain of command). Except that Chennault's way was aligned with the Roosevelt's administration policy and Stillwell's wasn't, which would explain why the latter was finally recalled - but too late not to matter.

To make things clear, I agree that good commanders are not always, if ever, good politicians. But you just don't expect the same from a division commander and a corps commander, and from a corps commander and a theater commander. The daily life of a man like Ike was more about pushing papers, advocating plans made in Washington and managing giant egos with all his allies and subordinates than it was about commanding troops on the field. As a fantastic drill sergeant Vinegar Joe might have been perfect, but he was just an elephant is a china store in this very assignment, if you would pardon the pun

quote:


No opinion on this because I didn't know him personally and I'm not infallible myself. Present company excluded because I don't know you personally I've witnessed complaints of racism many times only to see the same people partake in it. So I'm hesitant to play the progressive labelling of past historical figures or rewriting their legacy because they said or wrote unkind things.... I'm more interested in their historical actions.

Well, at least in his case we can't say that he didn't stick to his words
Actually I wouldn't call him racist. He was depreciative of everybody, at every level, from every origin. In that regard he is just a fine misanthrope who hated anybody who wouldn't care for his plans. The written part just adds to the historical flavor

quote:


It's probable He didn't want to be a pawn for a political opportunist

Certainly, but if so he chose the wrong career path as a soldier, I am afraid

quote:



although I don't agree with all the points your rebuttals have been enjoyable to read. Have a great one!😊

Same here


< Message edited by Fishbed -- 8/19/2019 10:20:44 AM >

(in reply to SuluSea)
Post #: 19
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 5:23:01 AM   
Yaab


Posts: 3862
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Cool, sophisticated, urbane.

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Post #: 20
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 3:57:56 PM   
SuluSea


Posts: 2283
Joined: 11/17/2006
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Fishbed

quote:

ORIGINAL: SuluSea

It was Stilwell's job to expose the corruption he witnessed American assets not being used in the spirit they were allocated by Congress. as an American Officer his duty was not only to the President but also military and American people.
Often it's easier to be quiet than expose something.


Well, I have the opinion it certainly wasn't, and that's the whole problem with this assignment. He had other people whose job was to report to the President and the United States on these issues, that's the role of the State department. That was the difference between his job as THE military cog in the machine and, say, Patrick Hurley's mission as the President's special envoy. In that quality, Hurley was there again everything Stillwell wasn't. As a Republican he could still put his partisanship and ideology in a little box for the duration of the war and serve his country and president with no afterthought. You could say that Stillwell was a straight man when it came to do what he believed in, but at a certain point if it means sabotaging your own country's influence in a struggling allied nation, maybe it's not really worth it - or maybe you're just not the right guy for the job.


quote:


Rarely are good military men good politicians or vice/versa. I respect Chennault's contributions to the theatre but I do question his motives of undermining Stilwell not to mention his theory on air power staying the Japanese or better.

The main reason why Chennault would undermine Stillwell was because Stillwell was undermining Chiang. It is the result of some sort of toxic love triangle that ended up exploding in the face of everybody and make everybody a loser - Stillwell, when he got relieved, but even Chiang in the long run.

Let's make it simple: Chennault was in a relationship that he deemed productive with the Chiangs. He was getting as much as he could from this relationship, and through this channel the sort of support that mattered on the ground, especially in terms of logistics (that is, support Stillwell would refuse him to a certain extent). It doesn't matter if Chennault got 15% of what could be expected from the Chiangs, and often had his plans or requests kindly rejected or ignored. These 15% mattered to him and to his plans, and were accounted for in his larger scheme. Chennault knew what to ask for, he knew what the Generalissimo's worries were made of and why he had them, and it is not because he chose to make the most of his political ally that he ended up bombing Communist troops (at least not then...). He didn't care about the rest (the KMT corruption, the warlords, etc...) because he would rather have his 15% in a corrupted world lead by Chiang than 0% in a place gone bonkers. To him, he had a valuable asset in Chiang and thought this relationship could only be improved overtime. And in hindsight, this approach makes perfect sense considering what befell the KMT (or Vietnam, or whatever, examples are aplenty) once ideology replaced realpolitik in D.C.

Then you have Vinegar Joe, who came to the personal realization that trying to get his own 15% was worthless if he could simply get more by removing Chiang from the business all-together (after all, he spoke Chinese and all, didn't he). To the point it wasn't just about removing Chiang from the management of his own troops, but openly plot the involvement of whom the said Chiang considered to be his true adversaries for the future. His approach as such was in direct conflict with that of Chennault and in retrospect not unlike what you'd imagine about a very loudmouthed, cowboy-like caricature of an American soldier (again, Patton comes to mind - and there again, being loud doesn't mean you're dumb at all, but it somewhat hampers your ability to move up the chain of command). Except that Chennault's way was aligned with the Roosevelt's administration policy and Stillwell's wasn't, which would explain why the latter was finally recalled - but too late not to matter.

To make things clear, I agree that good commanders are not always, if ever, good politicians. But you just don't expect the same from a division commander and a corps commander, and from a corps commander and a theater commander. The daily life of a man like Ike was more about pushing papers, advocating plans made in Washington and managing giant egos with all his allies and subordinates than it was about commanding troops on the field. As a fantastic drill sergeant Vinegar Joe might have been perfect, but he was just an elephant is a china store in this very assignment, if you would pardon the pun

quote:


No opinion on this because I didn't know him personally and I'm not infallible myself. Present company excluded because I don't know you personally I've witnessed complaints of racism many times only to see the same people partake in it. So I'm hesitant to play the progressive labelling of past historical figures or rewriting their legacy because they said or wrote unkind things.... I'm more interested in their historical actions.

Well, at least in his case we can't say that he didn't stick to his words
Actually I wouldn't call him racist. He was depreciative of everybody, at every level, from every origin. In that regard he is just a fine misanthrope who hated anybody who wouldn't care for his plans. The written part just adds to the historical flavor

quote:


It's probable He didn't want to be a pawn for a political opportunist

Certainly, but if so he chose the wrong career path as a soldier, I am afraid

quote:



although I don't agree with all the points your rebuttals have been enjoyable to read. Have a great one!😊

Same here



Compelling, eloquent stuff Fishbed.... I'm entertained.

With your defense of Chiang Kai-Shek Government, it's not surprising that you hold Patrick Hurley’s involvement in high esteem. It’s predictable.
Keep in mind that Hurley didn't report to China until Ichi-Go was well underway in August of '44. It’s noted Hurley needed an interpreter (and was a republican himself) I’d assume not a bad one because he fell in line with Chiang.
I'm trying to keep politics out of it but you keep invoking it back into the conversation? Why?
Do you believe that Stilwell would undermine his own country for political beliefs?
What concrete evidence is used to support that?
You keep stating or implying Stilwell should tow the Roosevelt line….. Why? The United States is a Republic; Roosevelt wasn’t a King. The United States is three coequal branches of government; it was Stilwell’s job to report corruption and theft, which is not insubordination.


100% of us enter into any subject with preconceived notions due to our world view and/or life experiences.
Find any subject and you'll find an opposing work, book, or viewpoint someone can hitch their wagon.

I do my best to choose trusted authors or best available sources for my historical accounts. Barbara Tuchman really spoke volumes with me in an early book titled Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour. In her Preface she noted her publisher wanted her to carry the work up to the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948 but because of her emotional attachment writing she could not be impartial. She noted, “This is not a suitable condition for a historian”. That kind of dedication to writing the historic account seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Barbara Tuchman’s Grandfather was Henry Morgenthau Jr (Democrat), he worked in the Roosevelt administration helping shape Lend-Lease support for China. Tuchman would have sources and experiences available to her that few others writing the historical narrative would. IMO Her work is the definitive account.


Finally I'll add Truman's words;
Harry S. Truman despised Chiang and the Soongs. “I discovered after some time,” he told one of his biographers,
“that Chiang Kai-shek and the Madame and . . . the Soong family and the Kungs were all thieves, every last one
of them, the Madame and him included. And they stole $750 million out of the $35 billion that we sent to Chiang.”

< Message edited by SuluSea -- 8/19/2019 4:44:52 PM >

(in reply to Fishbed)
Post #: 21
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 5:30:30 PM   
ReadyR

 

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For anyone who wants to take the time there is a US CMH series that includes a three volume history of the China-Burma-India Theatre. It treats Gen. Stillwell in some detail. https://history.army.mil/html/bookshelves/collect/ww2-chiburin.html

(in reply to Footslogger)
Post #: 22
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 5:31:04 PM   
Macclan5


Posts: 949
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From: Toronto Canada
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It is so very difficult to judge historical figures by today's sensibilities; especially if one has the hindsight of historical accomplishment as a yard stick.

B Tuchman's assessment is probably the most complete unbiased account. Her work - even if open to critic - is always fair and insightful in my opinion. I have not read that book in years but it was good.

That he was 'anti British'? Racist ? Anti French ?

Many Americans of that generation - especially Republicans (of 1930s) who were isolationists ( and it is noted by Tuchman he was) - were above all 'anti - imperial' - 'anti - colonial' - anti European. Leaders in the military, and politics in the United States (and additionally in Canada) were heavily influenced by World War 1 and essentially wanted no part of 'propping up colonialism'. They wanted no part of old world power politics. It was not that they all hated the British or <<insert here>> on an individual basis. They hated the trappings of the old world order.

(Canada has similar sentiments albeit with many other permutations - Quebec / Anglo / Monarchical trappings still in place)

He very well could have been racist - by today's standards there are light years of differences. By his own time standards probably no more and no less than many others.

He was caught essentially in a feudal political situation and his hands were tied to one faction.. the ones we call Nationalists (now a days). However the American OSS had no issues working with Ho Chi Ming in French Indonesia (Vietnam) during the same period ! Ho's Marxist philosophy would have been known even then.

I believe his future appointments essentially outline his competence as a Military Leader. He did okay in China given the hand he was dealt.

_____________________________

A People that values its privileges above it's principles will soon loose both. Dwight D Eisenhower.

(in reply to ReadyR)
Post #: 23
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 5:42:39 PM   
Fishbed

 

Posts: 1810
Joined: 11/21/2005
From: Beijing, China - Paris, France
Status: offline
quote:

Compelling, eloquent stuff Fishbed.... I'm entertained.

With your defense of Chiang Kai-Shek Government, it's not surprising that you hold Patrick Hurley’s involvement in high esteem. It’s predictable.
Keep in mind that Hurley didn't report to China until after Ichi-Go in August of '44. It’s noted Hurley needed an interpreter (and was a republican himself) I’d assume not a bad one because he fell in line with Chiang.
I'm trying to keep politics out of it but you keep invoking it back into the conversation? Why?
Do you believe that Stilwell would undermine his own country for political beliefs?
What concrete evidence is used to support that?

You keep stating or implying Stilwell should tow the Roosevelt line….. Why? The United States is a Republic; Roosevelt wasn’t a King. The United States is three coequal branches of government; it was Stilwell’s job to report corruption and theft, which is not insubordination.


100% of us enter into any subject with preconceived notions due to our world view and/or life experiences.
Find any subject and you'll find an opposing work, book, or viewpoint someone can hitch their wagon.

I do my best to choose trusted authors or best available sources for my historical accounts. Barbara Tuchman really spoke volumes with me in an early book titled Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour. In her Preface she noted her publisher wanted her to carry the work up to the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948 but because of her emotional attachment writing she could not be impartial. She noted, “This is not a suitable condition for a historian”. That kind of dedication to writing the historic account seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Barbara Tuchman’s Grandfather was Henry Morgenthau Jr (Democrat), he worked in the Roosevelt administration helping shape Lend-Lease support for China. Tuchman would have sources and experiences available to her that few others writing the historical narrative would. IMO Her work is the definitive account.


Finally I'll add Truman's words;
Harry S. Truman despised Chiang and the Soongs. “I discovered after some time,” he told one of his biographers,
“that Chiang Kai-shek and the Madame and . . . the Soong family and the Kungs were all thieves, every last one
of them, the Madame and him included. And they stole $750 million out of the $35 billion that we sent to Chiang.”


Oh. erm. That was surprising...
Apparently I mistook your tone for an actual enjoyment for this debate, but it was actually contained bitterness - if not anger... Sorry if I missed that. Was Vinegar Joe a relative or something? Apologies at any rate if I overstepped.

But by every means, you might want to read again what I wrote if you are of good faith. I never said the Chiangs were not the crooks they were (I mean, didn't I mention the words "corruption" or "corrupted" a couple times before already?). I never said they were the perfect people to rule their lot. You're overstating my claims in order to make your own narrative fit better, and it doesn't strike me as a very honest way to debate. I will go as far as saying that this seemed a bit petty and unhelpful, as I suppose we are all adults and entitled to a benefit of the doubt regarding each other's personal experience and history - and calling me some sort of Chiang hagiographer is going a bit far in the wrong direction. That passive-aggressive stance of yours is disturbing.

Regarding politics, sorry if it did strike a nerve or something (and I don't know why you would refrain yourself from bringing it up) but it was relevant - It was a way to compare his character to Hurley's - and I maintain that it is quite comparable, for diplomatic and military personnel share the very same self-obligation of non-partisanship in the line of duty.

You seem to hold, with merit, Miss Tuchman and her work in great esteem. It is quite understandable and so do I. But if so, I would kindly invite you to read again some passages of her account regarding Vinegar Joe's perception of the political field:



She never said of course that it ever influenced him on the job, but she does say that it didn't help putting the whole thing in motion on the right foot in the passage below. I'll explain (if you care enough to read and dispense yourself from making me say things I didn't, naturally). But at least you have one answer to your interrogation regarding why I bring politics up in this discussion - because Miss Tuchman herself thought it was relevant to do it.

The Chinese politics in every regard are all as complicated as the American ones can be. Because of his immediate interest (that is, accomplish his mission of kicking the Japanese out with all the resources he could muster) Stillwell's view of the situation in China was simplistic enough that he didn't care much for what would be next, and thought Chiang likely to be toppled from his military position, if not more - but in many regards, Edgar Snow's own view of things was simplistic, or even so was Roosevelt's. The 1940s weren't simple, but the war against the Axis and the need it generated for rather uneasy alliances around a common cause (in China like elsewhere) seemed to simplify them much at the time. But the difference between Roosevelt on one hand, and Stillwell, Snow or other contemporaries on the other hand, is that he had to formulate a policy around his opinion, and Stillwell was expected to be part of it (although you seem to disagree when you're saying that a General doesn't have to tow his President's line. But that's just you I suppose...).

Doesn't mean someone else got it all right (again, Chennault's immediate interest happened to be aligned with Chiang's own, and that put him on a collision course with Stillwell, but it doesn't mean Chennault was more of a strategist at all) and it is much easier to assess it in hindsight. BUT... don't you make Stillwell a fine political mind that understood KMT politics - and especially the complicated Roosevelt-Chiang dynamic duo that was both its insurance policy and its most obvious irony/paradox - like, say, Robert Van Gulik understood Chinese erotic literature. Because he simply wasn't.

In that regard Miss Tuchman's comment is clear and - I am sorry if it comes as news to you - we pretty much agree on the implications of this last sentence:



Sure, Roosevelt could have learned a few things about China and was intoxicated by his own ideology and bias. But Stillwell could have thought that maybe the China policy of his country, carefully husbanded over more than a decade of personal attachment of Roosevelt for the Chinese cause, wasn't the result of some fantasy run by a few moronic politicians. He might not have undermined his own country, no (there again, slander on your part regarding my claims?) but obviously he sabotaged his country's policy with the best of the intents at heart, that is accomplish his local mission at the expense of the larger picture. I'd go as far as to say that Stillwell was probably too innocent for this vicious world, in a way But so were other any high-level commander that failed to understand the non-military implications of their jobs.

But enough time spent on this. You do not strike me as a very sincere person willing to debate at all, considering the shortcuts you willingly picked, and the fact that you are trying to make me way more radical than I am in what I write. I hope this will satisfy Footslogger's thirst for the topic, because I am not coming back to it anytime soon. Keep on entertaining yourself, by all means...

< Message edited by Fishbed -- 8/19/2019 6:02:06 PM >

(in reply to Macclan5)
Post #: 24
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 5:50:57 PM   
Fishbed

 

Posts: 1810
Joined: 11/21/2005
From: Beijing, China - Paris, France
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And as a final sidenote...

quote:

Barbara Tuchman’s Grandfather was Henry Morgenthau Jr (Democrat), he worked in the Roosevelt administration helping shape Lend-Lease support for China. Tuchman would have sources and experiences available to her that few others writing the historical narrative would. IMO Her work is the definitive account.


I think you got the wrong Morgenthau here...

(in reply to Fishbed)
Post #: 25
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 6:05:17 PM   
SuluSea


Posts: 2283
Joined: 11/17/2006
Status: offline
No anger at all on my end. I wrote earlier in the thread I struggle with one language and that would include sentence structure.

Regarding defending Chaing's government , you're correct I took liberty and apologize. I do feel the content of your rebutlals put blame on others specifically Stilwell for the failure of the KMT.

At any rate please accept my apologies if I inferred something wrong as it wasn't my intention.

This thread has run it's course for me but I'll be reading. 😊👍


(in reply to Fishbed)
Post #: 26
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/19/2019 7:46:32 PM   
anarchyintheuk

 

Posts: 3861
Joined: 5/5/2004
From: Dallas
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Stillwell was given an ill-defined posting that was that was unlikely to achieve great success, given the different goals envisioned for the use of US support and supplies by the KMT and Stillwell and his own significant shortcomings re tact/diplomacy.

Re: Stillwell vs. Chennault . . . have to side with Stillwell, although it pains me because Chennault is a fellow Texan. Stillwell was correct in assuming that a bombing campaign by 14th AF would just lead to an IJA offenive to take the originating bases. However, I don't think even he imagined how big Ichi-go would be.

(in reply to SuluSea)
Post #: 27
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/20/2019 5:34:56 AM   
warspite1


Posts: 40237
Joined: 2/2/2008
From: England
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: Macclan5

It is so very difficult to judge historical figures by today's sensibilities; especially if one has the hindsight of historical accomplishment as a yard stick.

warspite1

Amen brother. In these type of debates, where historical characters are being assessed, those who seek to base judgement on the standards of today are just plain wrong (although thankfully there has not been a lot of that in evidence here). We see this all the time in debates of this nature and it really grates because its so pointless. If one were to look at just about any historical character - they would be almost certain to fall foul of something in terms of 2019 sensibilities - but so what? What does that actually prove? If we are going to judge such characters, then judge them on the standards of the world in which they lived; yes, judge them on what they achieved or failed at, but judge them according to what was known at the time and in the context of the times, and not with that wonderful thing called hindsight.


< Message edited by warspite1 -- 8/20/2019 5:41:55 AM >


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Post #: 28
RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/20/2019 8:45:10 AM   
jdsrae


Posts: 668
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From: The Land Downunder
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To be fair to the OP, he did ask for opinions. And opinions are like a certain part of the body, everyone has one.
I need to read more before committing my opinion on him to the interweb for eternity, and I would also have to come up with some criteria to assess him against.
From what I have read he wore multiple hats, which created a complicated military command structure in the BIC theatre which I couldn’t draw neatly on my allied organisation charts...
Even if his military rank was subordinate to other British and Chinese officers, he was also the senior US officer in theatre so it seems reasonable to me that with that hat on he was justified in advocating US interests.
I would like to understand more about the internal US Army politics involved and who decided to post him to China. In the context of 1941, was it a prestigious posting or was it a good posting for a LGEN that someone else wanted as far away from Washington as possible?

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RE: OT: Your Opinion of General Stillwell? - 8/20/2019 5:23:57 PM   
geofflambert


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I'm sure Marshall had the final say and a big factor had to be his skill with languages. He also understood the Japanese better than anyone else, I expect.

< Message edited by geofflambert -- 8/20/2019 5:25:17 PM >

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