Sunday, January 31, 2021

The candy bombers; the untold story of the Berlin airlift and America's finest hour

Our book club (on Zoom these days) will be discussing "The Candy Bombers" by Andrei Cherny this Monday. It's an absorbing book, and the author is a beautiful, graceful writer and consummate researcher.  At first I thought I'd found someone who knew the similarities between Fascism and Communism--the flip sides of the same pancake, but after reading his bio (he's a Democrat and progressive with time in the Obama administration) he seems to be unaware of the dangerous path we're going down. Perhaps because this was published 12 years ago.  He's the son of Czech immigrants. 

It's frustrating that today's totalitarian Democrats keep referring to President Trump as a fascist, but perhaps they are just the CNN muddle brained social media arm chair historians, since Trump fits none of the check marks for a fascist.  Our newest president who seems to be a stand-in for Barack Obama's third term is locked arm in arm with Big Tech--a much better fit the classic definition.

That said, I do remember the airlift that saved Berlin, and America's finest hour, as the subtitle claims. That's how we learned it in school. We were the good guys.   I even remember some of the post WWII review Cherny provides and a few of the names who figure in this story, like Lucien Clay and James Forrestal.  But I can't imagine how I remember.  I was only 6 when the war ended, I didn't go to movies that much in the late 1940s that I would have seen news reels, and my family didn't have a TV.  Perhaps we did read about it in American history classes as seniors, about a decade later. In any case, reading about what happened between the closing of the war and the beginning of the airlift in this book can certainly leave a bad taste in the mouth.  Americans, and the other victors, were certainly not behaving in "the finest hour" image I learned in school. Germans were starving and dying of malnutrition while the victors were doing little about it, fulfilling Roosevelt's idea that they needed to be punished more severely than what happened after WWI in order to "learn a lesson."

Harry Truman has always been one of my favorite presidents, perhaps because he's the first one I remember.  On p. 183 the author describes March 1948 after the Communists seized control in Prague.  Truman was in the Florida Keys, and of course, the press was being critical for his being on vacation.  Cherny notes a letter he wrote to his daughter, Margaret (another president who confided in his daughter), that "the situation was just like when Britain and France were faced with in 1938-9 with Hitler.  A totalitarian state is no different whether you call it Nazi, Fascist, Communist or Franco Spain."

He wrote:  "A decision will have to be made.  I am going to make it.  I am sorry to have bored you with tis.  But you've studied foreign affairs to some extent and I just wanted you to know your Dad as President asked for no territory, no reparations, no slave laborers--only peace in the world.  We may have to fight for it.  The oligarchy in Russia is no different from the Czars, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Charles I and Cromwell.  It is a Frankenstein dictatorship worse than any of the others. Hitler included. "

And that's what we're slipping into with the Biden administration. A sycophant media. Hold overs from the Obama administration who've been strategizing for 4 years to take us back to being government dependents. An oligarchy composed of powerful Big Tech companies who are closing down all expressions of conservative thought while the political parties seem helpless to control them. 

Also, the inside negotiations and personality conflicts between many key players and the military and the politicians in DC which Cherny masterfully portrays are disturbing to read.  I suppose that is common to every government with the petty disagreements, party loyalties, and idiosyncratic behaviors. I just haven't read that much and found it difficult.

There were 3 conventions that summer of 1948--the third was the "progressive" (Democrats) with Henry Wallace, who had been Roosevelt's v.p. in his 3rd term, but was pushed aside (thankfully) by conservatives in the Democrat party.  I loved the description of the Progressives in 1948--nothing has changed:

 "The delegates were young--the average age was 30 and many were in their teens. 3/4 of the delegates were new to politics (McGovern was 26). 2 out of 5 were labor union members . . . the mood was merry. Each day began with a sing-along of folk music. (Pete Seeger). . . at any moment during the proceedings, there would be numerous huddles on the convention floor forming around young men and women who had spontaneously begun strumming a guitar. . . The party platform called for an increase in the minimum wage, a strong action against racial discrimination, national health insurance, a Dept. of Peace, higher levels of farm supports, guaranteed pensions for older Americans. . ." p. 315

The U.S was already having problems with the Communist threat inside, and Wallace didn't have the slightest complaint about Soviet Communism, but found fault with the American government 's attempt to move against domestic communists. Any delegate at the progressive convention who wanted to slip a word into the platform that might be anti-Soviet, was shut down.

Yes, it does all sound very familiar.

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