By Robert A. Vella

With the rise of nationalism, fascism, and re-militarization in Germany following World War I, France greatly feared another bloody conflict with its archenemy to the east.  On its own, France could not compete with Germany militarily, having barely half the population, a fact which was well appreciated by its leaders.  For it to survive a new war, France would need the support of WWI ally Britain who frequently opposed French moves inside Germany designed to keep that nation from resurrecting back into an economic and military juggernaut.

France thought that it had no other practical choice.  It was compelled to prepare for a defensive conflict.  The strategy France’s leadership chose was to build a line of in-depth fortifications along its border with Germany from Switzerland to Belgium which ran about 450 miles.  Known as the Maginot Line, this very costly system of fortifications were both a state-of-the-art technical marvel and a formidable defense against a direct attack.  Nazi Germany’s generals were well aware of the line’s capabilities, so they simply went around it.  In May 1940, the Wehrmacht invaded the Low Countries (Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg), soundly defeated the mobile Anglo-French armies using Blitzkrieg tactics, marched deep into France, and outflanked the Maginot Line from behind.  France was finished.  It surrendered in mid-June.

During the Allies’ assault on Germany in 1944, American general George S. Patton, Jr. reportedly said the following when considering the strength of Germany’s western defenses known as the Siegfried Line:

“Fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.”

This lesson has been repeated over and over throughout history.  Medieval castles couldn’t prevent their towns from being starved to death by siege warfare;  and, later, its thick walls couldn’t withstand the punishment delivered by the advent of artillery.  Likewise, the Great Wall couldn’t prevent the Mongol conquest of China.

Despite this lesson, fear keeps compelling people to build bigger and better fortifications against enemies both real and imagined.  Today, President Trump is feeding the growing xenophobia and alarm over terrorism which have consumed America in recent years.  He is now threatening to shutdown the federal government if Congress doesn’t fund his plan for building an expensive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

When the walls come tumblin’ down
When the walls come crumblin’ crumblin’
When the walls come tumblin’ tumblin’ down

17 thoughts on “Trump’s Maginot Line

  1. Me three! I just hope that Trump’s soft supporters will wake up to reality soon. If he isn’t shut down using due process, the blood is likely to start flowing. That is so scary considering how well armed the general citizens are.

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  2. Who KNEW that General Patton could be so prophetic in his evaluation of our 45th President!? Well, for that matter any general all throughout military history could’ve predicted and gone around (the sea) or under, and OH WOW… looky there, we can now go OVER the wall — because people have been flying since the 19th century — when they want to get in, they WILL find ways!

    Are you familiar with the Hasbro board-peg game “Battleship”? Why do I have this image of our POTUS’ possessing only that level of military-special operations experience? 😩

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    • Yes, I do remember that game! Each player had an ocean grid where they would arrange their fleet. It had a folding lid that kept a player from seeing the other’s deployment. Each would take turns guessing where the other’s ships were, and correct guesses would be registered as hits on that vessel. Enough hits, and the ship sinks. The object was to sink all the opponent’s ships first.

      Not only is Trump engaging in a similar guessing-game, he is seeing enemies where they don’t exist. The man is freaking NUTS!

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  3. Robert, thanks for that interesting and informative tidbit about the Maginot and Siegfried Lines. As the saying goes: Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Our president and his generals have also forgotten President Reagan’s famous call to Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, in West Berlin on June 12, 1987: “Gorbachev, tear down this wall! Tear down this wall!” The wall dividing West and East Berlin since 1961 finally came down in November 1989.

    Walls offer rich metaphors about ourselves and our relationships with others. Our president is a real estate mogul. He loves building things to glorify himself. The bigger, the better. This wall would be a visible hallmark of his presidency: the “Great Trump Wall” for future generations to venerate. Much like the Great Wall of China.

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