January 11, 2014

Ariel Sharon was the Nathan Bedford Forrest of his generation

Ariel Sharon has died after a long coma. As Greg Cochran observed, Sharon's place in military history is secure: like the brilliant Confederate cavalry general Nathan Bedford Forrest, Sharon was the most accomplished light mobile commander of his generation. Sharon's performance during the 1973 war, when the more senior Dayan broke down under the strain and started thinking about nuking the Aswan Dam, was heroic. Out of favor politically, Sharon arrived at the chaotic front in a civilian car, took command through force of personality, and organized the recrossing of the Suez Canal, trapping an Egyptian army and winning the war.

But, also as with Forrest, you really wouldn't want to be a footsoldier taken prisoner by Sharon's troops. (The general rule in warfare is you are more likely to survive if you surrender like-to-like: if you are a footsoldier, it's best to surrender to enemy footsoldiers. Infantry POWs who surrender to fast-moving mounted forces are often seen as slow-moving impediments to their further dashes, and sometimes are disposed of accordingly.)
 

39 comments:

Whiskey said...

Sharon is also like Forrest in that neither really believed in what they sold to gullible marks. Sharon retreated from Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and was eager to make a deal for the West Bank in return for recognition by the Palestinians. For all his bulldozer ways, Sharon was the guy who unilaterally simply retreated from Gaza.

Likewise, Forrest disbanded the Klan when his Northern Capital dried up. Forrest was never one to let beliefs get in the way of making money, he earnestly declaimed to Northern newspapers how much he "loved" the Negro Freedman and how the Klan had been disbanded for abuses including lynching. [Source: "Notre Dame vs. the Klan" by Todd Tucker]

Anonymous said...

Beware of the mobile army.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aARaYjgm_rA

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Conspiracy Theorist here. When Prime Minister Rabin was about to make peace he was assassinated and just when Ariel Sharon was about to make peace he has a massive stroke. If the stroke were somehow engineered, wouldn't that be the perfect crime? But of course such a thing is impossible.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey,

Sharon didn't retreat from Lebanon. Barak retreated from Lebanon in 2000.

Sharon did retreat from the Gaza Strip, but he was far from "eager to make a deal for the West Bank." In fact, he only withdrew from Gaza as a transparent ploy to hold on to the settlements in the West Bank. By getting rid of 7-8 thousand precarious settlements in the strategically and economically useless Gaza Strip, Sharon could relieve international pressure on Israel and continue with the absorption of the most valuable land in the West Bank and the imprisonment of the Palestinians in ever-smaller Bantustans (a model that Sharon himself was fond of, according to the former Italian Prime Minister*), while the world focused attention on Israel's "sacrifice" in Gaza.

Dov Weisglass, Sharon's top aide, explained the logic of disengagement in an interview in Ha'aretz in 2004:

"The disengagement plan is the preservative of the sequence principle. It is the bottle of formaldehyde within which you place the president's formula so that it will be preserved for a very lengthy period. The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."

Is what you are saying, then, is that you exchanged the strategy of a long-term interim agreement for a strategy of long-term interim situation?... The disengagement plan makes it possible for Israel to park conveniently in an interim situation that distances us as far as possible from political pressure. It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians. There is a decision here to do the minimum possible in order to maintain our political situation. The decision is proving itself. It is making it possible for the Americans to go to the seething and simmering international community and say to them, `What do you want.'...

"Arik doesn't see Gaza today as an area of national interest. He does see Judea and Samaria as an area of national interest. He thinks rightly that we are still very very far from the time when we will be able to reach final-status settlements in Judea and Samaria....

"I have postponed [the settlers'] nightmare indefinitely. Because what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did. The significance is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. What more could have been anticipated? What more could have been given to the settlers?"

http://www.jmcc.org/Documentsandmaps.aspx?id=698

*http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/people-and-politics-sharon-s-bantustans-are-far-from-copenhagen-s-hope-1.10275

ene Berman said...

Forrest commanded a unit (I know not of the size)of black troops and maintained (to a newspaper reporter) the Confederacy "had no finer fighting men."

Hunsdon said...

For all of my distaste for his later political life, Arik was a first class fighting man in his prime, and that I salute.

Anonymous said...

When Prime Minister Rabin was about to make peace he was assassinated and just when Ariel Sharon was about to make peace he has a massive stroke. If the stroke were somehow engineered, wouldn't that be the perfect crime? But of course such a thing is impossible.

Impossible only because neither was "about to make peace."

The Jewish Israelis don't need to make peace. They are winning more land with each passing moment, receiving free money from the United States all the while. If nothing changes, in the fullness of time, their conquest of Palestine will be complete.

Additional commentary:

"Perhaps the Palestinians will decide on their own volition to get up and leave. And, if they don’t decide that, perhaps hedging them in with settlements, stealing their land and making their lives miserable will persuade them to do so. Maybe the West will suffer mass amnesia and leave us alone, maybe a nifty little earthquake will demolish the mosques on the Temple Mount or some deadly bacterium will only target Palestinians. Anything can happen – and we intend to be in possession of the land when it does.

"The government’s job therefore is to buy time, to appear sane, rational and accommodating, while never giving an inch. To negotiate as much as possible – negotiations waste a lot of time – without ever reaching a solution. In the meantime, the settlements, landgrabs and oppression continue."

Israel does have a solution: Do Nothing

Anonymous said...

A little-known thing about Forrest is that he was one of the original sponsors of Chinese immigrant labor after the war. He was heavily invested in railroads and worked vigorously to promote such labor.

David Davenport said...

Likewise, Forrest disbanded the Klan when his Northern Capital dried up. Forrest was never one to let beliefs get in the way of making money, he earnestly declaimed to Northern newspapers how much he "loved" the Negro Freedman and how the Klan had been disbanded for abuses including lynching. [Source: "Notre Dame vs. the Klan" by Todd Tucker]

Forrest and the men of his former command were not covered by the 1865 Appomattox agreement. The Reconstruction regimes in both Washington and Nashville wanted to try Forrest and the men of his former command for treason and murder.

Forrest was saying whatever he could to "make nice" and save his peepul's skins ... saying he'd found Jesus and all that.

I heard this from family history. One of my maternal great-greats, Milton Elbert Alexander, was one of Forrest's men.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey;

"Sharon was the guy who unilaterally simply retreated from Gaza."

That means nothing. The Gaza strip had a population of 9,000 settler Jews and 1.6 million Arabs. Since neither killing the Arabs or giving them citizenship was an option that Israel was willing to consider, or perhaps, get away with, the only other course was to remove a few thousand Jews and turn the place into the world's biggest outdoor prison.

Jason Hops said...

We do have to be careful about statements made by ex-confederate leaders. Their fate was very uncertain after the war and execution was a very real possibility for them or the men who served under them.

It is said that Robert E Lee actually told people he later wished the South had continued with guerrilla warfare after he saw what was happening with Reconstruction (he had opposed the calls for continuing with irregular war). However, he never wrote this view down or told a reporter because of the dangerous consequences. Remember, he didn't have his actual citizenship restored until 1975.

Anonymous said...

Steve, can you post a link to Cochran's comments about Sharon?

gcochran said...


"Forrest commanded a unit (I know not of the size)of black troops and maintained (to a newspaper reporter) the Confederacy "had no finer fighting men."

Never happened. Were do you people get this shit?

"Forrest and the men of his former command were not covered by the 1865 Appomattox agreement. The Reconstruction regimes in both Washington and Nashville wanted to try Forrest and the men of his former command for treason and murder."

Again, untrue.

Forrest was a talented asshole. He should have been hung by the neck until dead - for Fort Pillow.

RonMexico said...

Yes, gcochran, I thought Ft Pillow as soon as I read "the black troops" claim.

sunbeam said...

War is an ugly, ugly thing.

I'm not a veteran, and have never been in a war.

Whatever element of romanticism is associated with it to a younger man, "Semper Fi Mac, Do or Die," an older me wants nothing to do with it.

I think my ideal country does everything it can to stay out of conflicts, unless they directly threaten this country. And uranium mines in whatever, or the need for coaling stations in the Pacific should never be a part of that decision.

Gene Berman said...

gcochran:

I don't claim any specialized
knowledge regarding the matters to which I'd referred but, as to where "you people" get "this shit," I'd simply suggest a quick (and not particularly focussed or in-depth) googling of referents (General Forrest or "black troops in Civil War") and you can find yourself a handful pretty quickly.

Anyone can question any of the accounts that googling surfaces; they're "history," and as such, may have been massaged one way or another for many different reasons. I wasn't around at the time (to be able to provide first-hand testimony) but then, neither were you. Have you some reliable truth-filter for the now-ancient
accounts that might help separate wheat from chaff? Why not share it (so that we might know which are the good facts and accounts
as opposed to "this shit").

And, by "you people," to whom do you refer? Those posting comment with which you take issue?

ironrailsironweights said...

Had Sharon lived just a few more months he would have surpassed Jackie Wilson and claimed the title of Well-Known Person Who Lived the Longest as a Vegetable. Instead he had to settle for second place, having passed Joe Colombo about a year ago.
Note: I'm not counting Sunny von Bulow, who prior to her becoming a vegetable was at best a very minor celebrity but not famous. I'm also excluding Tony Conigliaro, who spent his last eight years severely brain damaged but not really a vegetable.

Peter

Mr. Anon said...

If they ever remake "Birth of a Nation", I'm sure that Will Smith will be cast as "The Klansman".

Unknown said...

"The Jewish Israelis don't need to make peace. They are winning more land with each passing moment..."
You just don't get it. Israeli right wingers don't get it either.
The Palestinian territories are a Trojan horse!
More land in territories where there's an Arabs majority mean rolling down a slope to the South African solution – One state or one man- one vote.
If the chances to divide the land to two states would fail , Israel will face an Anti-Apartheid campaign similar to the one that drooped whites in SA to their knees .
That's what Sharon understood. Sharon knew that reaching an agreement with the Palestinians is impossible (because they will never give up their dream of wiping Israel ) . He also knew that the western world and the Israeli left won't lever let deporting all of the Palestinian, like some far right wingers fantasize about.
Sharon concluded that the only solution is a one side action of withdrawal from the Palestinian territories to force demographic and geographic separation between Jews and Palestinians. That solution leaves the Palestinians two choices either to build a country on the abandoned land, or to try to use it as a terror base and then fill the arms of the Israeli army. In this constellation Israel has no responsibility for Palestinian citizenship, and so no possibility of an Anti-Apartheid campaign

BenTzotAbrit said...

I wonder what Ariel Sharon would make of Stanley Fischer. I don't know if any ISteve readers (most likely Jewish ones) read "In The Land of Israel" by Amos Oz, published in the early 80s. One section of the book is a stunning interview with an aging Sabra kibbutznik identified only as Z. The interview has become legendary, and Z is assumed by almost everyone to be Ariel Sharon. Z reveals in staggering detail an almost spiritually intense revulsion for diaspora Jews, a contempt more stark and passionately felt than virtually anyone we might call an antisemite. His vision of the diaspora Jew is epitomized by flickering and polymorphous national loyalties along with a neurotic devotion to developing newer and better econimic abstractions. Stanley Fischer is everything Ariel Sharon hoped Israel would eradicate in the Jewish character.

Anonymous said...

Stanley Fischer is everything Ariel Sharon hoped Israel would eradicate in the Jewish character.

Not sure I follow here. What is it that Ariel Sharon wanted to eradicate in the Jewish character?

gcochran said...

By "you people" I meant the race of pinheads.

sunbeam said...

gcochran wrote:

"Never happened. Were do you people get this shit?"

Actually a good question, is where do you get your shit?

I take it you are Greg Cochran of Westhunter, and one of the authors of "The 10,000 Year Explosion."

Got to congratulate you, you got a fine mouth on you.

But riddle me this: There is a long tradition of physicists making contributions outside of physics.

And a long tradition of them falling flat on their ass.

Which are you? And I were to walk into the biology department of any major university, are they going to laugh when they hear your name? Or discuss your theories?

I'll be blunt. I don't know enough about genetics, population biology, or the like to evaluate what you have to say.

So to me, you are kind of blank slate. I read your blog because you discuss some interesting things, but as far as taking you as an authority?

Eh, I don't know. Fred Reed has had a few comments about you in some of his columns, but I notice you never mention that, if you are aware of them of course.

I think the biggest thing that gets me about you, is your obsession with "genetic load."

As opposed to what exactly?

I also particularly appreciated your musings on increased temperature and muatation rate a year or two ago. I was hoping you would calculate a "nut load," from testicle exposure to UV light in climates where it was not comfy to wear clothing.

But you let me down. :(

But anyway, sadly due to how the internet works, I can't put a foot up your ass when you mouth off.

So carry on, genius. But tell me, where do you get your shit? I can take the arrogance, long tradition of that kind of thing, among both geniuses and morons. And well, water and a duck's back you know.

But lighten up.

Anon @ 1/11 3:22 PM said...

gcochran,

Actually, after a little googling, it looks like Forrest did at least claim to have had 47 slaves under his command, and he did say of them that "better confederates did not live."

http://books.google.com/books?id=YpgFAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA196&dq=%22better+confederates+did+not+live%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YijTUuuOBYP3oASz14HQCA&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22better%20confederates%20did%20not%20live%22&f=false

Of course, that doesn't mean he wasn't a racist war criminal.

BenTzotAbrit said...

Anonymous, assuming Sharon really was interviewee "Z," he basically wanted to eradicate all the same things a lot of hardline Zionists did (ie "Revisionist Zionists" from Zev Jabotinsky on down). Also a lot of overlap with what Jewhaters wanted to eliminate from Europe...tho of course difference was that Sharon dreamed that Zionism would create this glorious, healthy "New Jew," free of the traits you ask about: Jewish proclivity for internationalism, cosmopolitanism, ivorytowerism, materialism, deracination, et cetera. Fischer really embodies the picture Sharon lays out. And he regarded these diaspora Jews as the existential threat to that project, not Palestinians or Arabs or European Jewhaters or anyone else. Again, all this assumes Ariel Sharon was "Z." If he wasn't, I think nows the time for Amos Oz to speak up and say that.

Hope that answers the question.

Anon @ 1/11 3:22 PM said...

To use an analogy, I'm sure that Sharon commanded Druze or Bedouin soldiers at some point, and he may have said nice things about them. That doesn't excuse Qibya or Sabra and Shatilla.

Anonymous said...

There is a long tradition of physicists making contributions outside of physics.

And a long tradition of them falling flat on their ass.


Einstein sure wrote a lot of weird stuff about communism. I wonder if that's the real reason his pic is so common around universities. (Would those pics be as common if he had been a monarchist?)

Steve Sailer said...

I can vaguely recall Sharon praising Bedouins as fighting men, both, I believe, against him and under his command.

BenTzotAbrit said...

Yes, Sharon respected Arab martial capacities and regarded Bedouin as the most formidable Arabs.

That's more than just trivia. If Sharon hadn't been politically out of favor in the early 70s, the 73 war likely would never have been the near catastrophe for Israel that it was. Precisely because Sharon still respected Arab potential to defeat Israelis in battle. The rest of the muckety mucks, Dayan et al, let the total victory of the 67 war delude them that they were invincible. Sharon knew better, having been shot in the stomach and nearly killed when Arabs routed his platoon in 1948.

David Davenport said...

He should have been hung by the neck until dead - for Fort Pillow.

Which is what the Washington government, at least its point man Gen. Phil Sherman, threatened to do.

David Davenport said...

Not sure I follow here. What is it that Ariel Sharon wanted to eradicate in the Jewish character?

Same things Theodor Herzl wanted to root out.

BenTzotAbrit said...

Not really, Herzl imagined Jewish state as a darling member of an enlightened international community. Culturally fantabulous, like the Jews of Vienna and Budapest of his time. Sharon detested elite, cosmopolitan Vienna-style Jewry.

BenTzotAbrit said...

And whereas Herzl wanted Israel at vanguard of international community, Sharon dreamed of an Israel that could relate to the rest of the world with "polite indifference."

Eric said...

Sharon did retreat from the Gaza Strip, but he was far from "eager to make a deal for the West Bank." In fact, he only withdrew from Gaza as a transparent ploy to hold on to the settlements in the West Bank.

The Israelis left Gaza because the effort they had to put into protecting the settlers was far too much for the number of people involved. I doubt it would have been done if hordes of Israelis had been interested in settling there.

As far as making deals goes... well, it seems like both the Palestinians and the Israelis go through the motions of negotiation in the pursuit of outside funding.

gcochran said...

Forrest never commanded a unit of black combat troops.

It's like this: almost all Southerners were viscerally opposed to the idea of arming blacks, for some reason. So it was not allowed. Although I'm sure a few guys of mixed blood passed: for that matter, a few women passed and enlisted. But as the war dragged on, with the South gradually losing, some saw blacks as a possible source of desperately needed manpower. Patrick Cleburne (an excellent division commander)called in 1864 for the Confederacy to recruit slaves into its armed forces, with the promise of emancipation. No dice then. But later, Lee asked for it, and the Confederacy approved it in March of 1865. . But it was too late: as far as we can tell, none entered combat before the fall of the Confederacy.

Blacks were used for labor by the Confederate armed forces, as teamsters, hospital attendants, etc. Some Southerners took some of their slaves along as servants. Soldiers? Nope.

Somehow, 130,000 blacks from the South ended up in the Union Army. Not because they were drafted.


Anon @ 1/11 3:22 PM said...

gcochran,

Thanks, I had forgotten about all that. I also should have caught that Forrest said the slaves under his command "drove my teams." He never said they fought for him.

Sean said...

Forrest was a very wealthy man at the beginning of the war, many in his position, North and South, did no fighting at all. Joseph E Johnston thought Forrest was the most gifted commander of the war, and that only lack of professional training stopped him being the central figure of the conflict. How could he fail to be a racist by modern standards. Still, John Mosby said ""I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery—a soldier fights for his country—right or wrong—he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in ... The South was my country."

Soldiers on all sides shoot prisoners. Shooting of uniformed combatants who surrender in a tardy fashion after inflicting casualties has always been common. (Max Hastings said every front line soldier he ever interviewed, had seen, not just heard about, prisoners being shot). In the Civil war prisoners were sometimes shot, sometimes just let go (exchanged) believe it or not.

Sharon's gifts were as a gung ho leader and politician. He wasn't a particularly able tactician. He commanded a death squad that murdered scores of non combatants (two thirds of them women and children) in the Qibya massacre. In my book that makes Sharon more of a war criminal than Forrest.

Sharon in effect expelled millions of Palestinians from Israel at the cost of giving up a few settlements in Gaza. The Palestinians in the West Bank are going to be similarly penned up behind a bloody great iron wall.

Sean said...

The Egyptian attack in 1973 had limited objectives; Assad wanted Israel to start negotiating, and he succeeded in that. The Israelis realised they needed to neutralise Egypt and so they came to terms eliminating the Egyptian deterrent to Israeli expansion. Once Camp David removed Egypt from the equation, it freed Israel to pursue an Iron Wall policy against the Palestinians and the Arab countries still actively supporting them, through attacks to destablise Israel's Arab neighbours. Israel has been doing just that ever since.