Obama, Iraq, Af-Pak, history, French prostitutes win a battle, and other random and insightful thoughts
There have been a few posts getting some comments back and forth. Maybe there is some way I can include this in a sidebar, but for now I’ll just mention them here. The first is the “1 shot 2 kills” post and the other is the “World’s First Eyewitness” post. Join the discussion if you dare. Another reader recently asked if Doug’s Darkworld was my hobby. I never really thought about it, but I suppose it is. At least until someone sponsors me and I can devote myself to it full time. All reasonable offers considered.
Moving right along, in recent news, Obama made a surprise visit to Baghdad to praise the troops for their remarkable achievement. It’s a little unclear to me what, exactly, that achievement is. Iraq is still one of the world’s top ten failed states, was that the plan from the beginning? He also pressured the Iraqi government to “take responsibility” for Iraq. I’m sure more than few jaws dropped in Iraq at that one, I mean, how arrogant and patronizing can one get?
He’s also massively expanding the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is making my jaw drop. Does anyone really think we can “win” the war against Islamic extremists by destabilizing yet another Muslim country? Half a million people have already fled Pakistan’s border regions because of US and Pakistani military actions there, that’s half a million potential recruits for Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Hmm.
Robert Gates just announced a “massive overhaul” of military spending. Yes, six years after we got involved in a massive counterinsurgency, we are going to start re-organizing our military to fight more counterinsurgencies. While I certainly can’t argue against the cancellation of leftover Cold War weapons programs, re-organizing a military years after the fact is pretty symptomatic of a military completely out of touch with the times. I wish I could find the words to make people see that the US military is a byzantine bureaucratic corrupt organization bloated beyond all reason and decades behind the times in almost every respect. If we ever have to fight a real war again, we’re all in big trouble. And oddly enough, the “new” budget calls for yet another increase in military spending. Sigh.
While on the topic of belligerent foreign policy, I see North Korea thumbed their nose at us and launched their missile anyways. Since there was zero chance they would cancel the launch, I really can’t imagine why we would set ourself up to be ignored. Are we trying to generate a casus belli for attacking North Korea? Colour me mystified.
Moving right along, I read an interesting article pointing out that the collapse of the world’s economy is almost certainly going to create a huge increase in world crime. I can’t really argue, hell, look what’s going on just over the border in Mexico. As tens of millions of desperately poor people the world over lose their jobs, some of them will turn to whatever jobs are available. In other words, it’s a golden age for finding recruits for criminal syndicates. And as more governments fail and more failed states are created, this problem is just going to get worse.
And as these and other economic collapse related problems get worse, we can expect governments to take ever more repressive steps to control their populations. I dunno, but one of my visions for the future is a world where much of the third world has reverted to local control, while the increasingly repressive “modern” western and Asian governments start to fight among themselves for their share of the ever shrinking global economic pie. And I’m not the only one starting to think this way. Interesting times indeed.
On a related note, I think I’m finally beginning to understand why leaders keep repeating the exact same mistakes throughout history. It’s simple, historians almost never get into positions of power. So I propose that governments set up a “Department of History” on par with other government departments. Then any time the government comes up with some great “new” idea, they can ask the Secretary of History if the idea has ever worked before? If he/she says “no, in fact it’s always made things worse,” back to the drawing board.
Yes, I’m a dreamer. And yes, the idea is flawed because leaders for the most part aren’t trying to effectively and efficiently run their countries, they are trying to promote the political and financial interests of themselves and their cronies. Does that makes me a cynical dreamer? Or a realist?
Coming soon, posts on great military blunders in history. First will be the Battle of Castillion, where the British saw a cloud of dust made by a fleeing bevy of prostitutes, and concluded that the French army was running away. So they immediately charged the now “abandoned” French positions, only to discover belatedly that the French fortified line was packed with French soldiers, guns, and cannons. Oops. And that was the ignominious end of the Hundred Years War.
(The above image is public domain under US copyright law since it was executed in the ninetenth century. It’s a painting of the Battle of Castillon by the French painter Charles-Philippe Larivière (1798-1876). It depicts the English leader, John Talbot, the 1st Earl of Shewsberry, having his horse shot out from under him. The Earl was trapped under his horse, and a French soldier named Michel Perunin recogised him and achieved footnote status in history by hacking him to death with his axe. Isn’t war glorious?)