An op-ed guest writer for the New York Times opines:
SIXTY-FIVE years ago, in November 1944, the war in Europe was at a stalemate. A resurgent Wehrmacht had halted the Allied armies along Germanyâ€™s borders after its headlong retreat across northern France following D-Day. From Holland to France, the front was static â€” yet thousands of Allied soldiers continued to die in futile battles to reach the Rhine River.
One Allied army, however, was still on the move.
The author goes on to speculate that a breakthrough at Strasbourg would have brought the war to a speedy end. Just how is mostly handwaving, “could unhinge the Germansâ€™ southern front and possibly lead to the collapse of the entire line from Holland to Switzerland … swing west to come in behind the German First Army, which was blocking Pattonâ€™s Third Army in Lorraine. The enemy would face annihilation, and the Third and Seventh Armies could break loose and drive into Germany. The war might end quickly … what [German generals] really feared was an incursion across the Rhine, which would have been a military catastrophe and a devastating symbolic blow to the German people.”
Symbolic blows, devastating or otherwise, didn’t quite get the job done in that war. More importantly, the author manages the remarkable feat of writing about decisive events in the European theater without once mentioning where the bulk of fighting took place.
Really, how hard would it have been to put “on the Western Front” somewhere in that initial paragraph? Why not acknowledge the titanic struggle taking place on Germany’s other borders at that time? Why didn’t the author do it himself? How many hands did it pass through at the Times, and no one thought to put in even a clause about the East?
Why, as Brad DeLong says, oh why can’t we have a better press corps?