Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let us not let history repeat itself.

I shall scarcely give my consent to exhaust still farther the finest country in the World in the prosecution of a War, from whence no reasonable man entertains any hope of success. It is better to be humbled than ruined.[1]

--Edward Gibbon

Dear George,

The above statement was made by the eighteenth century author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire when he was a Tory member of the British Parliament. He had been an avid supporter of the government’s effort to quash an insurrection in its British North American colony. Tragically, he lost his will and withdrew his support.

Though he is known best for his three volume history of Rome’s fall, he also occupies a footnote as history’s first appeaser. It was a tragic step. Here was the British army on the cusp of victory, only to be stabbed in the back by weak-kneed civilians.

Had the military been allowed to stay the course, they would have crushed the insurrection. The terrorists were bankrupt; they lacked public support. They were ill-trained and ill-equipped. There is no way in hell they could have prevailed against the eighteenth century’s sole superpower.

It was the loss of national will that did them in and planted the seeds for the eventual fall of the British Empire.

Let this be an object lesson for those who would have us slink out of Iraq and Afghanistan with our tail between our legs. When the martial will is loss, peace breaks out, and with peace comes the moral decay that frays our social fabric. War, continuous war, brings out the best in those who don’t have to fight it.

So, let us flip Gibbon’s dictum and declare that, “It is better to be ruined than humbled.”

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

[1] Quoted in Cullen Murphy’s “Are We Rome?”

No comments: