Sunday, 18 October 2009

Sunday Afternoon Reflection: Have today's decision makers learned any lessons from WW2?

As mentioned before, I am working my way though "The Defense of The Realm," the thousand plus page history of MI5. More to come on that when the whole thing has been read. In the meantime I am putting this up for discussion. Unfortunately since I don't have a comment section, you will have to discuss amongst yourselves, your friends, your kids, or email me.

The Defense of The Realm: The Authorized History of MI5. Christopher Andrew. Allen Lane, London, 2009.
p. 203

SIS's own policy was set out in a memorandum of 18 September entitled 'What Should We Do?', drafted by the SIS head of political intelligence Malcolm Woollcombe and personally approved by Sinclair. SIS argued strongly that the Czechs should be pressed to accept 'the inevitable' and surrender the Sudetenland. They should 'realise unequivocally that they stand alone if they refuse such a solution.' Britain, for its part, should continue with a policy of calculated appeasement. It should not wait until German grievances boiled over and threatened the peace of Europe. Instead the international community should take the initiative and decide 'what really legitimate grievances Germany has and what surgical operations are necessary to rectify them'. Some of Germany's colonies, confiscated after the last war, should be restored. If genuine cases for self-determination by German minorities remained in Euorpe they should be remedied:
It may be argued that this would be giving into Germany, strengthening Hitler's position and encouraging him to go to extremes. Better, however, that realities be faced and that wrongs, if they do exist, be righted, than leave it to Hitler to do the right thing in his own way and time - particularly if, concurrently, we and the French unremittingly build up our strength and lessen Germany's potentialities for making trouble.

Britain should try to ensure 'that Germany's "style is cramped", but with the minimum of provocation.'

MI5 disagreed.

SMW: MI5 issued their own, greatly different, report, which you can read all about in the book.