The Decline and Fall of the United States of America Empire
"Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
By Walter Brooks
A generation ago, Barbara Tuchman, one of the great historians, wrote her seminal work, "A March of Folly", which gave four frightening examples of nations following failed and clearly self-destructive policies through successive governments, right, left or center.
As President Barack Obama considers increasing the troop levels in our war in Afghanistan, there is no better use of his time as he enplanes for meetings in Asia than this book published 24 years ago.
Can we succeed where Genghis Khan, the British Empire and the Soviet Union failed?
MS Tuchman demonstrates that what happens among national policymakers from the Trojan War through our Vietnam debacle is a "process of self-hypnosis." She recounts examples of tactics the British used against rebellious American colonists, including the heinous use of "mercenary" troops, then called Hessian, whom King George killed in what is today's Germany.
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The parallels with the current escalation of the war in Afghanistan are more than uncanny. They show deeply rooted patterns right down to a New York Times story yesterday about the $1 million bribe paid by America's own Blackwater "mercenaries" to Iraqi government officials to make them overlook the 17 innocent civilians whom Blackwater's troops-for-hire murdered in 2007. Have we stooped so low as to learn how to wage war from King George?
The United States is not the first nation to fail in Afghanistan. Many preceded us into what historians call "the graveyard of empires." Almost a thousand years ago the hordes led by Genghis Khan could not hold this savage place, and the British Empire was defeated in their attempts a century ago when it was at the height of its power.
Can America match the Soviet Union's 14,453 war dead in Afghanistan?
Many present day historians credit Afghan for the defeat of the Soviet Union, not America's might. Between December 25, 1979 and February 15, 1989, a total of 620,000 Russian soldiers fought in Afghanistan (104,000 at one time), and the USSR's total dead from their failed decade came to 14,453.
The Soviet's equipment losses included 451 aircraft, 147 tanks, 1,314 armored personnel carriers, 433 artillery guns and mortars, 1,138 command vehicles, 510 engineering vehicles and 11,369 trucks and petrol tankers.
The decline and fall of the American empire
Only the victors get to write the history books, consider our own Native Americans. In another century historians will be able to look back at the American Empire with a degree of certainty.
I believe the history written then will declare that our empire, which began with our invasion of Cuba and the Philippines during the Spanish-American War in 1898, ended with our being defeated by the Vietcong on April 30, 1974.
Since that day America has not won a war except for our tin-horn invasions of tiny Granada and Panama.
Why our President doesn't see the grim and bloody handwriting of past Afghan invaders on the White House wall is beyond my understanding unless power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts, absolutely.