King George Lionheart

There. A compliment.

Now, let's see what good it does any of us.
Don't Send a Lion to Catch a Mouse
By Shankar Vedantam
Monday, March 5, 2007; Page A03

Two centuries ago, Napoleon Bonaparte sent his armies into Spain to overthrow a monarch who had once been a French ally. Napoleon, who believed he was touched by the hand of destiny, predicted his troops would be welcomed as liberators by ordinary Spaniards. He was wrong. The resulting Peninsular War from 1808 to 1814 seriously undermined French prestige, handed Napoleon a stinging defeat and produced a raft of unanticipated consequences that included the outbreak of deadly civil wars.
Which bit of History teh Decider surely knows, having presumably earned his History laurels in the Ivy League.

Remember the story 'bout the silly human walking down the street and falling into a gaping hole? Next time he walked down the same street, he noticed the hole, just before falling into it again. The next time he noticed the hole in time and walked around it.

Well, Shrub seems intent on not noticing the holes he's walking in to. What makes it so bad is that he's not doing the walking himself. He's just pushing young men and women ahead of him - lead from the rear style - and telling 'em "they ain't no hole. March on! I've Decided it!"

My man is just too clueless to see he's acting on the same historically evolved instinct as the "insurgents" he's sure he can either defeat or sway.

Two political scientists recently examined 250 asymmetrical conflicts, starting with the Peninsular War. Although great powers are vastly more powerful today than in the 19th century, the analysis showed they have become far less likely to win asymmetrical wars. More surprising, the analysis showed that the odds of a powerful nation winning an asymmetrical war decrease as that nation becomes more powerful.


While the findings are of immediate interest because of the situation in Iraq, the social scientists are really trying to address a systemic issue: America has gotten stuck in the Hollywood notion that a military with ever more powerful armaments is a more effective military.

Reversing that view will be difficult because it calls into question the utility of giant defense projects, Lyall said. Also, the findings lend credence to the politically unpopular notion that successfully prosecuting an asymmetrical war, such as the one in Iraq, requires a large fighting force and, possibly, high casualties as troops asked to blend in with local populations become vulnerable targets for insurgents.

Lyall and Wilson are testing other theories that might explain their empirical finding -- unlike the hammer-is-too-large-for-the-nail theory*, the most prominent of these alternate explanations will not give Washington policymakers much to work with: Many of the 250 asymmetrical wars that the scientists studied involved colonial powers trying to subjugate various peoples -- imperial Europe fighting distant wars in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The rise of nationalism over the past two centuries and the revulsion that colonialism now inspires might also explain the declining ability of major powers to subjugate weaker nations.

"One of the best rival explanations is nationalism," Lyall agreed. The French and the Russians, for example, won asymmetrical wars in Algeria and Chechnya in the 19th century, but lost asymmetrical wars in those same places in the 20th century. "In the 19th century, there was not a literacy for nationalism. You look at a lot of these colonial wars. The great powers could play off tribes against each other. By the 1960s, you cannot do that anymore."

[Got a better mousetrap?]
At least not with any semblance of the results you were expecting from it.

* Oh well. There goes Rumsfeld's rational for teching up the military. Not that such a course was ever one which Shrub was staying. I'm honestly not sure as anyone knows what course that actually is.


  1. Is it possible that some of these failures-to-subjugate are the result of civilian populations -- now that we can sort of find out what's going on in these distant wars -- simply object to the horror and futility of the violence? In other words, maybe people really don't want to hurt each other, and once they know what their governments are up to, they try to stop it?

    This would be a silver lining, wouldn't it?

  2. The construction in my comment above got me all confused. Change "object" to "objecting," and it makes a little bit more sense. Just a little...

  3. If we could manufacture people and the military could buy them, they would just throw more soldiers at the war, but they are stuck with having to fund the Defense industry. Surprise, Surprise, said Gomer Pile - the Defense Industry is among the highest rated profit stocks and their top execs get higher pay than God. so it's not about being more effective, it's about payoff.

  4. No worries, Larry. I don't know though. Violence seems endemic to folk; no matter what they economic motivations.

    Course I may just be feelin' negativerer than usual, eh.

    Yah, I think so, Mary. Whatever the payoff is for different cultures.

    Too bad not many think of cooperative growth as a payoff, eh...

  5. Richard Coeur d'Lion is probably rolling around his grave by now. Never could two men be on opposite tracks in life as these guys. And Ma Babs couldn't walk in the shadow of Eleanor of Aquitaine if she tried. Henry Anjou certainly overshadowed his son such as 41 and 43. History plays such tricks...

  6. Very interesting article. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. The sad part is that until we remove the influence from government of those that profit from war we are doomed to keep falling into the hole.

  7. Yep, the longer they can drag this out, the more opportunity for profit they have.It's disgusting.


  8. Adorable GirlfriendMarch 06, 2007 9:13 AM

    Sadly, I have only come to accept recently that violence may be endemic.

    It depresses me to no end. Very unfortunate.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts