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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Why Didn't They Sack Haig?

As the commemoration of the tragedy of the First World War gets into top gear, there are already books and TV programmes focussing on the appalling carnage of the Battle of the Somme which began in July 1916. It was continued until the end of the year, despite the fact that there were 60,000 British casualties on the first day: with no significant gains. The British Commander-in-Chief, Douglas Haig (of the whisky firm)  committed successive waves of men to death in further fruitless pursuit of the same barren strategy. He followed the Somme by a series of further 'great pushes'  which had no significant success in the ensuing eighteen months.
uHis defenders claimed that by refining his techniques he eventually enabled the army to smash the German front in the late summer of 1918, by which time the German supply system was disrupted by civil unrest and the beginning of revolution.
Hundreds of thousands of men died in pointless repetition of the same boneheaded strategy as on the Somme, until new weapons and new training methods prepared the army to exploit the very different conditions that faced then from the middle of 1918.
Haig survived catastrophic failure, despite the repeated wish of the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, to be rid of him. The entire establishment, led by the King (George V) insisted that he should stay. 200,000 lives were valued at less than the vanity of Haig and of those who had appointed him.

I invite every reader to look at these articles and programmes, with the thought in the back of their minds that the position of the Economics establishment today is like that of Haig and his kind in 1916. " Just push harder and the strategy will work" said the boneheads; but it didn't.
Today the pointy-heads are saying " more competition, more cuts" and the economy will really rebuild itself.; but it won't. King George's granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, asked the assembled luminaries of the London School of Economics why they had not seen the crash of 2007 coming: and they had no answer. Haig had no answer for those who challenged him in 1917, but the old-boys' network saved him. Something similar is keeping the professors of Economics in their chairs now.

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