After the German army surrendered in 1918, the so-called stab-in-myth ("dolchstosslegende") arose, to the effect that Germany was sold out to the Allies by the leftists, socialists and Jews. This of course is traditionally associate with Hitler, who was one its firm believers, but it arose as early as 1919, well before the beginning of the Nazi movement.
And in one form or another, the stab-in-the-back myth been with us ever since. In the 1940s Roosevelt was blamed for "selling out" Poland at the Yalta Conference, and Patrick Buchanan was still hawking this myth as late as 1997, in case there were still a few people around who still held a grudge against FDR. Blaming the liberals, "Hanoi Jane" Fonda, and the rest of the DFHs for the loss of the Vietnam war was another example.
SitB is most useful where there's been a defeat in an expensive (in lives and money) foreign war, which ends in defeat or a dubious victory that scarcely seems worth the cost.
Thus in a domestic war, or a war where the homeland is completely occupied by the invader, the causes of the defeat, typically some combination of overwhelming force of the invader and incompetence on the part of the defender, will be readily apparent to everyone, and the notion of a shadowy cabal of traitors in high places cannot easily take root. This was one of the considerations which led to FDR insisting on unconditional surrender of Germany in WW2.
And one sees it elsewhere. For example, Greece had spurned the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres which would have granted Greece substantial territorial concessions within the former Ottoman Empire. Instead, Greece attempted to conquer a good part of what is now western Turkey, which ultimately resulted in a catastrophe for Greek arms, and the consequent loss the lives of some 30,000 Greeks in September, 1922, at Smyrna (whether through massacre or otherwise is still in dispute).
The stab-in-the back myth still has a terrific amount of utility. Unlike warmongering itself, which can whip up the populace, but which wears out under the pressure of casualties and destructions, dolchstosslegende can be used for decades, with the typical formula being:
The country was betrayed in the war X years ago, and that's why it's so screwed up today. Those Y traitors are the same people responsible for the loss of that war. Vote for Z instead.The myth is particularly enabled by foreign wars where the fighting and destruction occur outside of the common experience of the people, and the troops return in good order. We see it again in this hideous Bergdahl affair.
Here for example is David French, writing in the National Review two days ago:
Fewer soldiers understand giving the enemy what it wants for a man who likely betrayed his brothers.And I am sure you may have noted similar lingo from the right wing noise machine. Among their droogie followers, who lack the prancing nuance of so many of the right wing commentariat, have taken action, as Wonkette notes:
That’s not war. That’s a form of surrender.
The “Bowe is Back” celebration was shaping up to be a showdown, with protesters bombarding the city with angry phone calls and threatening to flood the tiny Central Idaho town during the annual June event, previously called “Bring Bowe BackThe Bergdahl affair is already starting to run out of steam -- after all, how many times can you call a returning POW a traitor before the shock value starts to wear off. But there will be other occasions, just as Benghazi presented, for the stab-in-the-back theory to find some application.
Read more at http://wonkette.com/...
Cas Dreyfus, went unpunished,
thanks to anti-semitism.
The shoddy thinking and appeals to mob prejudice among the anti-Dreyfusards are replicated these days by Frank Gaffney, Andrew McCarthy, Pamela Geller, and Peter King, to name just a few of those attempting to stir up (and profit from) hatred of Muslims.
There is some good news, however. Dolchstosslegende can only prosper in a country that has serious problems and is on the verge of serious and maybe irreparable destruction. Whether this is a cause of a country's political fall, or a symptom of some deeper social disorder is probably not capable of determination.
But the social harm is obvious. We all know the German example. It's not the only one. I mentioned the Trial of the Six, which poisoned Greek politics for a long time. And for the last 40 years the Republicans have blamed everything on the DFH's who yanked us out of Vietnam just before victory was about to be had.
Our country is still very strong, and that strength comes from the basic devotion of the people to fairness, education, and democracy. Of course there are always the outliers, the Huey Longs, the General Walkers, and the Ted Cruzes, and they may be able to fool some people for a while. I don't rule out the possibility of short-term harm, as the irrational blinds us, or some of us anyway, to what is true. But ultimately the haters and the dividers will not prosper, and when they are gone, it will be into the dustbin of history.