How Stalin's policy, adopted by Roosevelt in 1943, guides the war in Ukraine.
By JOHN LEAKE
For most of European history, wars were fought with the understanding that if they became too destructive and costly, they could be concluded with a negotiated settlement. Once it became clear that one side was gaining the upper hand, the other side could sue for peace instead of dragging it out and getting a lot more people killed and property destroyed.
After Napoleon was defeated in 1815, the Congress of Vienna declared him an outlaw and stated that no power would ever negotiate with him again. This was an early example of the doctrine of “Unconditional Surrender.”
During the American Civil War, Union General Grant adopted the policy of “Unconditional Surrender” in dealing with Confederate officers who asked for terms. Though I’ve never found time to investigate it, I have heard that all of the European general staffs marveled at the iron will of Generals Grant and Sherman to suffer stupendous losses in order to annihilate the enemy instead of negotiating with him.
The policy of Unconditional Surrender reached its apotheosis at the Casablanca Conference in 1943, when Stalin persuaded Roosevelt and Churchill to adopt and announce it as official policy in the war against Germany.
Stalin did this because he was afraid the British and Americans would do a separate peace deal with German military officers who didn't like Hitler and wanted to get rid of him. Because the Russians were doing most of the fighting, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to Stalin's demand.
The trouble with this Unconditional Surrender policy was that it was not only applied to the Nazi regime, but equally to German military officers who would have gladly gotten rid of Hitler. Had the Americans and British supported German resistance officers instead of repeatedly spurning them, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators might have succeeded in getting rid of Hitler and the Nazis in July of 1944.
Numerous historians have noted that by far the most destructive phase of the war was between Stauffenberg’s failed assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 and and May 7, 1945. This last year of the war also coincided with the most murderous phase of the Holocaust in the extermination camps of German occupied Poland.
Ever since Casablanca, the U.S. military and political class has insisted that there can NEVER be any negotiated settlement. Thus, it seems to me, Putin should have realized that the Americans would NOT negotiate with him after hostilities commenced, but would encourage the Ukrainian government to fight (with American arms) bis zur letzten Patrone -- "till the last cartridge" as Nazi fanatics described how they would fight the Russians and Americans, especially after the policy of Unconditional Surrender was announced.
Though most of our people seem to like the idea of the Ukrainians fighting with American arms till the last cartridge, it's hard for me to imagine a constructive outcome for this policy.