That’s the title of a four-pronged historical examination by Barbara Tuchman: an examination of four specific episodes in history (or in the case of Troy and their gift horse, possibly mythical history) where the leadership of a political entity decided – against all good advice and reasoned opposition – to go full out in idiocy counter to their best interests, the pursuit of which left them very much in a worse situation than before. Pride, stubbornness, stupid devotion to a set of principles which wound up biting them in the nether regions and supposedly serving a warning and example to the rest of us. Yet – as MS Tuchman notes – political bodies kept on doing it, over and over again. (Although I and others do have some serious beefs about how she categorized the saga of US in Vietnam.) It’s a readable overview, a quick skim of what happen in four separate eras when four different entities decide against all good advice, interests and viable alternatives, to go ahead and pee on that electric fence; a reminder – as if we really do need another one, that self-interested stupidity is a human constant.
I do believe that the Biden administration in this year of 2022-23 would provide another thrilling segment to MS Tuchman’s brief accounts of political folly, even though we can’t quite make up our minds if there is a single éminence grise manipulating the puppet Joe Biden with a hand up his fundament, or a varied crew of single-minded, single-focused string-pullers in his staff and cabinet going this way and that, in service to their own varied and clashing interests. We’d be farther down the road to disastrous folly if there were a single puppet-master, so perhaps we can take comfort from the sheer clashing incompetence of the many cancelling each other out.
And – folly or malice? Smug stupidity or deliberate, vicious plan, to pick a fight – a for-real shooting war with Russia over the Ukraine or China over whatever provocation has occurred in a day of the week ending in ‘y’? I’m torn between the two possibilities. Yes, the cloud of smug superiority hovering over Washington DC these days is nearly impenetrable. Alas, I can believe that the fools in this administration (given the examples of Sam Brinton, the luggage-and-ladies-clothing fetishist, Pete Buttigieg, the Secretary of Transportation who is so flamingly unfitted for the high office he has been awarded that everyone now knows who the Secretary of Transportation is, and Karine Jean-Pierre, the affirmative-action muppet incompletely relaying marching orders to the national media) could blunder into a war, nuclear or otherwise … and dazedly wonder afterwards, what they had done to bring all that on.
The other option – outright malice – is actually even scarier. What if the end-goal is provoking a very real war? A state of war is the final refuge of political scoundrels. What better way to clothe themselves in patriotic colors and paint domestic opposition as allies to the perceived enemy?
What then, oh wolves?
As one in touch with the veteran community, as well as those still on active service through my daughter’s various contacts – my reading is that the military services are done in. Morale is almost as bad as it was at the end of the draft. (And I was there, to see the last vestiges of that, in the late 1970s.) In the communities which have always provided the personnel who serve at the pointy end of the spear – those communities and families are sick and tired, tired and sick. Tired of having lives lost and burnt out through incessant deployments. (Oh, yes – our CiC checking his watch as the dead from that last gasp in Afghanistan were delivered back to the US of A – that was an indication of how much the lives of our sons and daughters in the military were valued.) Tired and sick of their communities and families being painted as irredeemable baskets of racists and every other sort of ‘ist going. Sick from incessant command-directed DIE briefings. Sick from having ‘get the jab or get out’ Commie Crud vaccine, which is turning out to be more of a health hazard than the Commie Crud itself. Sick of having our love of country and folk disparaged and denigrated. Yes, those of us from military families and traditional communities will so salute and fall in line at the recruiting offices. And I have a lovely bridge to sell you. (Invoice through paypal…)
Discuss as you have the means to do so and while we still can.