Monday, August 20, 2007

The Rhymes of History

Criticizing a war is much easier than winning one. Consider the following bit of history.

In the space of six weeks during the Civil War, the Union army under the command of General U.S. Grant lost over 61,000 men, more than the US lost in all the years in Vietnam. Many powerful and vocal critics in the Union denounced President Lincoln as a bumbling incompetent and General Grant as a butcher. Many in the press called for an immediate end to the war, even if it meant dividing the country and the continuation of slavery. Lincoln did not waver. It cost him his life.

How would the US look today if those who opposed Lincoln and Grant had won the day? Would black Americans be free or would they still be another man's legal property?

Would the divided states have grown to be the world's economic and business leader with the highest standard of living in the world, or would a divided country have been gobbled up by some more powerful and ruthless nation?

Impossible questions to answer, but frightening possibilities. No doubt the Civil War was a terrible thing. But who can seriously argue that nothing good came from it?

Now consider this question: how will the world look one hundred years from now if we listen to those who denounce President Bush as an idiot and the war on terror as a failure? As the saying goes, "History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes."

Contrary to the opinion of too many people, business does not find prosperity in war. War, as an activity that uses up lives, property and wealth, is good only insofar as it is protects far greater numbers of lives, far more property and far greater wealth.

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