D-Day: The liberation of Europe has lessons for today’s war leaders.

Paul Johnson, arguably one the best living historians, writes on the risks of D Day, and the necessity of historical perspective in wartime — including the war in Iraq.

BY PAUL JOHNSON
Thursday, June 3, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

LONDON–To launch a large-scale opposed landing across many miles of water is the most hazardous of all military operations. Nothing before or since has ever been mounted on the scale of Operation Overlord, though the U.S. invasion of Iraq after the 9/11 outrage employed more firepower. The D-Day landing that began June 6, 1944, involved three services, airborne and glider troops, submarine landing, undercover agents and saboteurs, and an astonishing array of technological gimmicks.

It was the most carefully planned operation in history, and it had to be. So many things could go wrong. Churchill had learned from the bitter experience of Gallipoli 30 years before how easily a big invasion could be pinned down on a narrow beachhead and never break out of it. That nearly ended his political career. The Dieppe rehearsal showed the risks we were taking and the real possibility of a catastrophe. In Italy, we had had another near-disaster at Anzio.

Read the entire article on the Wall Street Opinion Journal website.

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