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Those Who Fail To Learn From History…

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In this morning’s Jolt, Jim Geraghty does marvelous work reporting on the contradictory nature of our goals and actions in Syria.  You need to read it.  But what I find most fascinating about the analysis is the fact that with the single exception of a Churchill quote, Geraghty does not mention history.  And yet in my living memory are numerous examples of the failure of policies exactly like those he describes.

Though younger than I, Geraghty is not ignorant of history.  I have to think that his exclusion of these historical parallels is purposeful.  One would assume this is because he is convinced that historical argument is ineffective.  If so, I am deeply concerned that our nation is in fact “insane.”


Two straightforward examples.

The first would be Geraghty’s quotation of a Byron York piece from a few weeks ago:

Warren explained that American officials were deeply worried about harming the truck drivers, who were working for the Islamic State but might not be ISIS themselves. U.S. officials settled on a plan to drop leaflets on the trucks about 45 minutes before the raid, warning the drivers that an attack was coming, while U.S. pilots flew low passes over the area. Planning all that took time.

That is so eerily reminiscent of stories that came out of Vietnam as to give one the shivers.  When you combine that with reports from over a year ago that the White House is approving individuals targets and you think about LBJ, it is like deja vu all over again.

The second would be the Geraghty’s reporting that one of the goals in Syria is to “Minimize infrastructure and environmental damage.”  Does anybody remember Saddam Hussein’s final act of war as he withdrew from Kuwait?  He set fire to the oil fields – one of the largest environmental disasters in history.  We cleaned it up.  “Environmental damage” is not permanent, but it pretty much is mandatory if you are going to conduct military operations.

I am deeply concerned that as a nation we are so self-involved, so convinced of our own rightness, that we feel we have no need to consult those that have come before us.  It is a spiritual illness with massive moral implications.  This is not some self-indulgent sinful behavior that we so often think of when we think about self-absorption.  This is a self-absorption that results in deaths in the hundreds and thousands.

Further, this is a self-absorption that actually prevents genuine progress.  We really are doomed to repeat it.


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