Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wisconsin Recalls: Operation Market Garden Redux

Operation Market Garden
I love history.  I really love the history of World War II.  I've read numerous books and seen lots of movies and documentaries about the conflict in Europe, what Studs Terkel called The Good War.  I remember when I was 14 or 15 going to see a remarkable film called A Bridge Too Far.  The film tells the story, in a quasi-documentary way, of Operation Market Garden, the largest allied airborne and land offensive of World War II.  It really struck me (and still does each time I see it) that something so massive can be executed, flaws and all, and still have such a positive outcome even though it didn't succeed in what it set out to do.

Mostly, this morning, it reminds me of the Wisconsin Recall effort undertaken by Democrats, Progressives and Unions to return sanity to our state government and reign in the destructive policies of Governor Walker and his rubber-stamp Reichstag.  While we were successful, we were not ultimately victorious.  But, as part of the larger war, this effort has positioned us for the final push.  While history may not repeat, it often rhymes.

I'm not going to attempt to outline the entire history of Operation Market Garden here, this is not the place to do it, you can read the Wikipedia article or go watch A Bridge Too Far.  You will get a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities presented by both the plan and the execution of that plan.  Suffice it to say that the plan was ambitious (in the extreme) and the execution was, at best, uneven.  The results were mixed but ultimately the plan move the ball closer to the German border and, as part of a broader effort to win the war, it was successful.

A Magnificent Failure

Field Marshall
Sir Bernard Law Montgomery
Montgomery claimed that Market Garden was "90% successful."  While the original plan was highly optimistic in it's expectations, it was mostly successful.  The ultimate goal, Arnhem Bridge, the bridge over the Rhine and into Germany, remained in German hands after Market Garden despite the heroics of the British 1st Airbourne Division.  The Allies successfully punched through the German lines on the Dutch border and drove all the way to the edge of Germany.  They were stopped, in the end, by the accidental positioning of the 9th SS Panzer Division which had been sent to Arnhem for R&R.  Had it not been for this, the Arnhem Bridge would very likely have fallen into Allied hands and the Ruhr valley would have been vulnerable to immediate attack.

The Wisconsin Recall effort set out to disable the Governor's ability to push through any more regressive legislation and the goal was to flip three seats in the state Senate.  Despite the presence of AFP and other Koch Brothers "Panzer Divisions" in the state, we were still able to flip two seats in heavily Republican districts.  This is remarkable when you consider that in the history of recall elections in the United States, only 13 elected officials have ever been recalled.

In addition, we were successful at fending off a weak Tea Party GOP counterattack against two Democratic seats.  While we did not achieve the ultimate goal, we were "90% successful."  And, like Operation Market Garden, we've set the stage for the final push.   Montgomery into Germany, and the Democrats into the Governor's Mansion.

Following Operation Market Garden, the front lines moved significantly further east in the northern sector of the war.  While the final objective, the Arnhem Bridge, was not taken, the advance allowed the Allies breathing room to bring up additional troops and supplies to push on into the Ruhr valley in the coming weeks.  But Operation Market Garden had attempted to go "a bridge too far."

The front line in the Low Countries after Operation Market Garden
Following the Recall efforts, the lines were moved significantly closer to the "German" border.  What needs to happen now is for us to redouble our efforts to get Scott Walker recalled!

The fate of the state is in our hands!

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