In 1943 the brilliant aircraft design engineer Barnes Wallis submitted a plan to the Royal Air Force(RAF) that outlined the destruction of Germany’s major hydro dams in the Ruhr industrial area of Germany. Wallis realized that if the dams could be breached the destruction downstream would in itself be devastating to the war effort of the Third Reich. In addition the loss of electrical generation capacity throughout the country would have a multiplying value for the aerial raid.
Reluctant at first, the RAF was finally convinced by a tenacious Wallis, to approve the plan and assemble an elite group of veteran airmen for the audacious mission. The new unit was designated 617 Squadron with the motto: " Apres moi le deluge." Literally translated from French it means: "after me comes the deluge" This was a perfect motto for the unit that successfully completed the Wallis plan on the night of 17 May,1943. Their low flying Lancaster bombers damaged or destroyed several of the major Ruhr dams crippling German industry for several months during a critical part of the war. That night 617 Squadron was immortalized as The Dam Busters.
Where did the 617 Squadron get the idea for their unit motto? It was a double entendre on the last words of King Louis XV of France who, on his death bed, realized that during his reign he had fouled up matters of state to the extent that a deluge of problems would soon plunge the nation into chaos. Fifteen years after his death came the French Revolution.
Most scholars of French history believe Louis XV’s decisions damaged the power of France. His total mismanagement of the national treasury discredited the monarchy, making it vulnerable to distrust internationally. His reign from 1723 to 1774( fifty years) has been described by many scholars as one of, "debilitating stagnation, characterized by lost wars with endless clashes between the Court and Parliament." Gee, the King’s track record reminds me of our current resident of the White House. It begs the question, is the President the reincarnation of the King?
There are several differences and similarities between the reign of King Louis XV and the presidency of Barack Obama. First, the similarities: Both men are walking disasters at financial policy. Each implemented spending orgies as the route to financial stability. In national military strategy both their track records are abysmal. Neither would take the advice of their military experts. King Louis managed to lose The Seven Years War that cost France their North American territories while President Obama frittered away all the gains made in Iraq by also ignoring his military advisers. Most of the European heads of state considered Louis a perpetual adolescent called to do a man’s job. His downfall was indifference to the ineffective results of his policies. Not much has changed lately on this leadership flaw.
There are several striking differences between King Louis and President Obama. One is the death bed statement of King Louis: " Apres moi le deluge.", the final words of an incompetent, perpetual adolescent. In contrast the final statement of President Obama as he leaves office will probably be the motto of his administration: " It was all Bush’s fault.", the final words of an incompetent, perpetual narcissist.
The second striking difference between the two leaders is that it took the King fifty years to screw up royally while this President has managed to do it in less than eight!
Retired Professional Engineer and Farmer