December 06, 2006


Caption: Sound the alarm.

The New Republic magazine is like Forrest Gump's box of never know what you're going to find inside one.

Sometimes El Cabrero reads an issue from cover to cover and other times there just doesn't seem to be handle to with which to pick it up.

(Did you guys notice how elegantly I avoided ending a sentence with a preposition? Those are bad things to end a sentence with.)

The Dec. 4 issue is more in the former category. "Iraq: What Next?" is the theme and it's probably a measure of goat rope level in that unfortunate country that so many presumably informed people can come up with so many disparate answers.

There was a memorable comparison in an article by David Rieff which was pretty chilling. It referred the US invasion of Iraq as America's Sicilian expedition. Rieff was probably not the first to draw the comparison.

All historical analogies are inexact, but this one refers to one of the worst ideas in the nearly 30 year long Bad Idea that was the Peloponnesian War.

For those who are not ancient Greece buffs, this was a disastrous war of choice in which the Athenians invaded distant Syracuse for no compelling reason after being told it would be a cakewalk. The bad decision to invade was only made worse by subsequent bad decisions. The similarities end there but that's plenty close enough.

That's the first thought, such as it is.

The second comes from Niccolo Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy:

I claim, then, that there is no easier way of bringing disaster on a republic in which the populace has authority, than to engage it in undertakings which appear bold, for, if the populace is of any account, it is bound to be taken up; nor will those who are of a different opinion be able to do anything to stop it. But if this brings ruin to a city it brings ruin still more frequently to the particular citizens put in charge of such an enterprise. For the populace having taken victory for granted, when defeat comes, do not blame it on fortune or on the helplessness of the person in command, but on his malevolence or his ignorance.


1 comment:

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Have you seen the video “Why We Fight?” Three people referred me to it before I found it among the Google videos. It was difficult for me to watch. Yet, it provided a frightening scenario for our recent past and possible future.