In the “Bombs Away” segment of December’s “A Brush with History” John Kenneth Galbraith alleged that Allied bombing of Germany during World War II didn’t really hinder the German war effort very much. Apparently Professor Galbraith has read mainly his own report on the subject.
Albert Speer, Hitler’s minister of armaments, provided a much different report. He stated that on numerous occasions German industry was spared even more severe disruption only because the Allies didn’t understand the extent of the damage their bombings were inflicting. This, he felt, often precluded follow-up raids that would have been completely crippling. He specifically pointed out the raids on the Schweinfurt ball-bearing works as one case in point.
These “might haves” are of course conjecture; however, it is factual that vast numbers of German troops were withheld from the fighting fronts to man antiaircraft batteries, thus shortening the land battles.
Galbraith’s attempts to liken air attacks in Korea and Vietnam to World War II bombings of Germany is an apples-and-oranges comparison. World War II air attacks on Europe were largely planned by the air forces involved on the basis of perceived military necessity. Air raids during the Korean and Vietnamese wars were largely guided by politicians—as to both the targets picked and the routes flown to these targets.
Perhaps the lesson is that when politicians decide they absolutely must start a war, they shouldn’t dub themselves military experts.