Friday, December 28, 2007

Wartime Nostalgia

© MMVII v 2.0.2

Ah, wartime nostalgia: "If the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'" 
- Winston Churchill

Really? The British Empire would last until 1947 — 2 years after the Fall of the Third Reich. When the Raj ended in India, it was gone. What happens after "their finest hour"? Have the war enthusiasts considered this:

The good old days are when we won. We like to win. We are winners. So, the last war we celebrate is The Great Victory of 1945. We love "The War". That's the one we remember. We don't celebrate losing China (1945-1948). We don't celebrate losing Korea (1950-53). We don't celebrate losing Vietnam (1959-1975). We aren't celebrating losing Iraq. Or Iran.

And nobody remembers or celebrates losing India, or losing Dien Bien Phu, or losing Algeria. The years that have followed The Great Victory have unfolded as the End of Empire, including the American Empire.

What's happened? Aren't we invincible? The neocrazies thought so when they invaded Iraq. Here's what really happened in WW II:

In the beginning of "The War" the Allies were fairly evenly matched with the Axis, but the British ULTRA operation was decoding a thousand German military cyphers a day throughout WW II while U.S. Naval Intelligence was decoding a thousand Japanese military cyphers a day too. The Axis never suspected that their enemy knew what they were going to do before they did it. The Allies had a stupendous advantage. Sure, the Allies — specifically the Americans — enjoyed superior firepower and logistics but they had even more after 1945.

The neocrazies, and others who love war, simply don't know what they are dreaming about. You can usually win if your sleeves are stuffed with Aces.

What about The Cold War? Didn't we win? Remember all those wars that we didn't win? They were the Cold War. Toward the end of the 1990s, the Soviet Union simply ran out of gas and nobody believed in it anymore. (The same thing happened to Imperial Germany in 1918!) The USSR declared bankruptcy and went out of business. Now, ironically, Russia's tank is full (thanks to George W. Bush and soaring oil prices) and the Russians and the Chinese and the Indians are cooking with gas, along with the Vietnamese and Mexicans and many others. They are making things and we are buying them. One day soon, we will no longer be the world's biggest consumer as others become wealthier. Will we become poorer?

Not necessarily.

Looking at events since 1945, war seems to be obsolete as a way to get what you want. Advantages evaporate as the competition catches up. Warriors (and make-believe warriors like neocrazies) may be dinosaurs. Wouldn't that be great? Let's hope they are.


Tokugawa Yoshinobu resigned as shogun and abdicated his authority to Emperor Meiji in 1867. Samurai hung up their swords and went into business. Edo was the world's largest city. It still is.

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