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Friday, 04 December, 2020

Repeating History

Date: 11 September, 2003

By: Chief

Imagehose who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it" (George Santayana).

Isn't that the truth.

Two years have come and gone since the horrific destruction of the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon being damaged on September 11th, 2001.

We became instantly outraged as the news videos — live — were being broadcast. The towers crumbling and falling. The lives that were lost on that fateful day. We wanted revenge. Hell, we wanted blood. The more the merrier. And when the news broke that it was Arabs who hijacked the planes and flew them into their targets, boy howdy did our blood boil.

You would think that we by now, two years later, would have calmed down and thought this whole thing through. Well, I hate to break the news to you but it appears we haven't thought this through very much at all. Indeed, we are still in Afghanistan. Iraq, who we invaded earlier this year, still does not seem overly cooperative with its new found 'liberator'.

What is at issue here is that we are, or should I say have been, repeating what history has shown as not a real good way to deal with, shall we say, hot button issues in the heat of passion. Reaction in the heat of the moment does not make for good judgment. Normally the outcome is even worse and leads to possibly even worse events in the future. Yet we tend to do it — without thinking about it. Heated reaction — emotion — is not good idea.

What history am I writing about? How about World War I. That is the prime example. Because it and its outcome, the Versailles treaty, led quite literally to World War II.

Most of us know or have read that we, the U.S., entered into World War I rather late in the game. April 6th, 1917 to be exact. The war had been going on since 1914. Prior to our declaration of war our country had been making quite a bit of money on the war by selling to Britain and France all sorts of materials which enabled them to keep up the fight against the 'central powers' of Europe. Due to the sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania in 1916, which outraged the populous, and — because of our exports to Britain and France — the 1917 German government's new policy of unrestricted submarine warfare to counter the exports, which outraged us for a second time, then President Woodrow Wilson sought a Congressional declaration of war — against Germany.

A country in no way can be considered neutral if that country is providing war material to one side of the fracas.

Germany did not even start World War I. We declared war, initially, on the wrong country. The Austro-Hungarian empire started the bloody thing when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. The Austro-Hungarian government demanded that Serbia turn over the culprits to Austro-Hungarian authorities for trial. Does this sound recently familiar? When the Serb government refused Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Members of an organization called "Black Hand" sought to create a "greater Serbia" by Bosnia-Herzegovina achieving independence from Austro-Hungary and joining Serbia through a series of violent actions. In other words a terrorist organization was the group that was responsible for the killing of Ferdinand and sparking a four year war. Again I ask, does this sound recently familiar?

The worst part of the war was, believe it or not, the peace treaty which was signed officially ending the war. The treaty of Versailles. Germany, not Austro-Hungary, not Serbia — had to — take the blame for the war. Germany, not Austro-Hungary, not Serbia — had to — pay reparations for all the damage that occurred during the war. Further, Germany had to cede land, possessions and territory that had been legitimately Germany's for quite a few decades. When all totaled up, there was no way for Germany to pay the damages and get itself economically back on its feet. It was, shall we say, a case of irreconcilable differences. Differences severe enough to send the German currency into hyper-inflation which lead to the mass hunger of the majority of its citizens and finally gave rise to a man who the world would later know by the name of Adolf Hitler. We all know what that led to.

In short had we:

Now fast forward to present day. A bunch of terrorist cowards hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Our citizenry is pissed off to the max. King George the Bush lays the blame on Al Qaeda. Purportedly the ringleaders are in the mountains of Afghanistan. King George the Bush demands the Afghan government turn over the Qaeda members to the U.S. The Afghan government refuses. We attack. Kind of like the Austro-Hungary — Serbia incident, the start of World War I.

But that was not good enough for us. Earlier this year we invaded Iraq. Why? Hell I do not think anybody really knows. To be sure, the very, very few that may know are not talking. All manner and sorts of talk have been bantered about and none of it has turned out to be true. With one exception — Hussein is a tyrant, an asshole without peer. That, however, is no reason to invade another country. It makes about as much sense as Wilson declaring war on Germany instead of Austro-Hungary and Germany.

And what have we actually accomplished in the two years since 9/11? We have lost some fine soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. We have not captured bin Laden. But we have pissed off the majority of Muslims throughout the entire world, which is not necessarily a good idea.

Because of that, in the future, just like what happened with the Versailles treaty, there is a distinct possibility that a new 'Hitler' may emerge from the Afghanistan-Iraq disaster and come back to haunt us in ways we cannot yet comprehend.

When will we ever learn.

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