Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When history airs re-runs

Concerned about our fate in Afghanistan and the growing civilian-military gap in America, UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge cited some historical insight from "Queen Victoria's Little Wars," a book by Byron Farwell. In it, the tome's author writes: "From 1837 to 1901, in Asia, China, Canada, Africa, and elsewhere, military expedition were constantly being undertaken to protect resident Britons or British interests, to extend a frontier, to repel an attack, avenge an insult, or suppress a mutiny or rebellion. Continuous warfare became an accepted way of life in the Victorian era .... Even at the time, punitive excursions, field forces, and minor expeditions were so commonplace that most Britons never knew of them." As for the fighting in the land of the Hindu Kush, Farwell noted that "while always protesting friendship, the British repeatedly invaded [Afghanistan] and shot at its inhabitants. Always unable to subdue the proud, fiercely independent Afghans ... [The campaign of 1880] proved once more that the British could defeat the Afghans in open battle but they could not hold the country. ... the Afghans had a disconcerting habit of not knowing when they were defeated." Sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it?

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