Wednesday, November 2, 2016

History Lessons

I'm still slowly working my way through The De-Textbook by Cracked (past posts one, two, and three). Today it's all about history.

  • The South never had a chance of winning the Civil War militarily. They were outnumbered about 2 to 1 both in overall population and number of soldiers, and they produced only 3 percent of the firearms made in the U.S. (pages 140–141) But hey, they still managed to win it politically by destroying Reconstruction and reinstituting slavery through convict leasing, Jim Crow laws, Klan and Klan-like violence, and the rest of the tactics you may be familiar with.
  • It's fairly widely known that Truman decided to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the alternative — a ground war on Japanese soil — would have been much worse. But I didn't know anything specific about what was code-named Operation Downfall. "Historians and tactical reports from the era estimate that casualty rates could have been anywhere from 1.7 to 4 million on the American side, and 5 to 10 million on the Japanese side. In fact, the U.S. leaders were so close to opting for Downfall that they minted 500,000 Purple Hearts to give to wounded soldiers, a number so large, we're still working our way through that initial batch today (as of the second Iraq War, we had about 100,000 left over)" (pages 146–147).
  • There was no nuclear arms race until the U.S. made one. The "missile gap" was invented by Air Force Intelligence between 1955 and 1961 to goose their operating budget. There are transcripts showing John Kennedy accusing them of "selling the American people on a 'misguided myth'. In the end, the arms race was really a get-rich-quick scheme that got out of hand when the USSR mistook all the U.S. missile-building as a threat (go figure), instead of a cash grab" (page 150).
Still another 50 or 60 pages to go.

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