Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Iran, Iraq, Immigration: Cut to the Chase!
Does History Apply?
For some time, I have noticed that many prominent bloggers (who shall remain unnamed here) have the style of searching for the origins of issues, and only gently deriving any actionable conclusions from their efforts. It appears to be a fetish to delve into history as far back as the Crusades when focusing on Iraq or Iran, and to discuss the benefits of the Scotch-Irish immigrations when weeding through the issues hidden in the current immigration debate. There seems to be an enormous investment in past events, outcomes, and ideas that are supposed to inform our current debates. Perhaps so and perhaps not.
We are in the 21st century, and the contrasts in practically every category of life you can name in America are vastly changed, even from the early to mid 20th century till now. Thus, arguments by analogy can be terribly flawed because of: misuse of the comparison by a straining author; data from the past or present being incomplete, biased or in error; by the changed technology available today; or by the prevailing attitudes, spirit, conviction, or patriotism prevalent in the past or today. It seems then, that only the most gross comparisons can have real meaning and utility.
Vietnam versus Iraq is one to think about. The one comparison that has any real meaning is the abject defeatism of the media in both cases. In the Vietnam instance, it eventually turned military victory into a political defeat for America, and a genocidal disaster for the people of Southeast Asia. It is apparent that the lesson here has not been learned by the media for Iraq.
So I have little use for the media, which is yet another user of false comparisons to make their negative points.
There are many new factors to be accounted for, including: WMD; GPS; logistics and transport capabilities; communications; intelligence; modern weapons; speed of execution; and the commander's and the troops knowledge of the battle today. While some ruses and tactical or strategic ploys from the past still work today, they must be carefully tempered by these new factors, or even rejected because of them. This is not to say that study of the past of warfare is not meaningful. It is. It provides grounding for new officers in grasping the thinking of the excellent soldiers and generals of the past. Then it is up to them to apply these methods to the present, or to update them with their newly available capabilities.
In most cases that I have familiarity with, both bloggers and the media tend to misuse historical comparisons blatantly, causing untold confusion in the public mind. It is happening today in the totally politicized Iraqi situation.
There is no cure, either, I believe.