A poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Greg.... spot on. Ukraine is a necessary and incredibly important WAR... if we abandon Ukraine, we abandon Western Europe, China and Moscow and 40 odd others get the message: we Americans do not care or dare... The Marshall Plan was then, now is post Vietnam, and we DO NOT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES... WILL BE THE MESSAGE. All that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do NOTHING. Greg, who said that?
Excellent ✒️ & Thanks!
Bravo, Greg. When? When Koff and Sir Greg?
Never on Sunday? Why not?
I always cry for the poor animals we drag into human animals’ armed conflicts and wars.
If you can be anything in the world, be kind 💔
European history is always so confusing. Trying to learn about a war involves learning about a previous war and that war refers to an even earlier war & on & on down the rabbit hole. I’m currently reading Thomas Asbridge’s book “The Crusades”. It seems it was originally more of a dispute between Christians (Orthodox vs Roman) than Christian vs Muslim. Oh what a mess we make of this world.
Your conclusion was perfect:
“ If the First World War was dumb and avoidable, the Second World War was a necessary fight against a genocidal autocratic madman. The first Crimean War was dumb and avoidable. The war happening in Crimea now is a necessary fight against a genocidal autocratic madman.”
I am donating money to Ukrainian rescue work and Dem politicians (& believe Musk should be tried for treason & Starlink nationalized, or at least controlled & regulated as a public utility.)
Thank you for this well written piece.
I am shocked! SHOCKED! That there is poetry about war! (Said no English major…ever!)
Thank you, Greg, for highlighting both war poetry (fuck you, Tommy Tuberville) and the current battle for Ukraine and their sovereignty.
Greg—thanks for the memory. When I was in university half a century ago, a group of friends and I started playing the war board game “Diplomacy” in a very serious way. Some of the games would last days. Each player represented a major European country just before the outbreak of WW I and had armies and navies. Only England had 2 navies to go with its one army, while Germany had 1 navy and 2 armies. An army could be transported by a foreign navy to be positioned on the board. Alliances were made and broken through negotiations that sometimes took hours culminating in secret written orders that were, at some point, revealed. An example might be me, as France, stating that one of my armies is transported to Turkey by the German navy. Whereupon the person playing as Germany might say, “Not so fast” because Germany entered into a secret alliance with Turkey, leaving my army isolated. As I recall, positive results were accomplished by two on one—two armies against one—thereby eliminating the sole army.
Looking back to those many decades ago, it’s no wonder there have been so many “dumb” wars given how heated things became when we were only playing a game. Perhaps it’s a quirk of human nature whereby a population’s (MAGA?) inherent psychopathy is, under certain circumstances, given free rein.
Magnificent walk through history Greg, sadly religion holds such value and insecurity in this world!
I appreciated your reference to the “unarmed horses,” as I love horses as much as doggies. Calling it a tie for man’s best friend.
Thank you, as always very interesting and informing me of things unknown but relevant to our lives today. I read Tennyson's poem in school but did not have it analyzed in this detail.
It never ceases to amaze me how one small minded, mentally flawed individual can create so much havoc. There are the obvious figures in history, Ivan, Hitler, Stalin and now Putin, no less a general with total disregard for those under his command. Saddam, mullahs and MBS also come to mind. I dare say Bibi N. is on the fringe of these players. This seems to be a common thread, a mindset that says I am all powerful, you are a meaningless piece of shit. The key failing of those believing themselves to be stable geniuses. A bigger failing, we who should know better tolerate them, try to accommodate them, as though confrontation is a no go zone. Yes, Biden is being a much more aggressive foe, unifying allies in an all too fragile alliance but stopping short of truly meaningful actions for fear of destroying that alliance. Fighter jets come quickly to mind. Words and sanctions do not win wars, they just prolong the agony suffered not by we who try to go on with our daily lives, moaning about the price of a gallon of gas but by the men, women and children of Ukraine and yes Russia. The innocent victims of a meaningless Special Operation. This is not to say that Biden et al create the scenario for another poem. Smarter actions are called for.
More confusing is how supposedly smart men see what is in front of them but fail to accept acts for what they are, hideous acts of war. Obama emboldened Putin for the most part by turning a blind eye to the annexation. Condemnation, words were strong but global inaction had as much to do with today's war as anything Putin did or said. Churchill begged for assistance but only Pearl Harbor created the impetus for action. Do we wait until the unhinged madman takes one step too far.
Major General James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan made one of the dumbest decisions of any war time commander but at least he acted. We can be much smarter and take actions much more effective than his. Sadly at the moment we ponder our navels, will we create nuclear havoc, on what basis do we act, let's consult with lawyers, etc. etc. Yes, any action comes with consequences and yes, these need to be factored into any decision taken. However for this person words and sanctions are not working, there are too many forces of evil supporting evil with names like China, Iran, India (buying Russian oil in amounts surpassing the total value of Western aid) and now N Korea. Action is needed.
My apologies for rambling but your excellent column lanced a boil that has been bothering me. Guess it was time to get the puss out. Thanks.
War is Dumb.
No such thing as a smart war or a good war. A necessary war? Physical war. Economic war. Regardless the slaughter continues. Ukraine is the murderous bloody battle field of a war between Russia and the United States.
This insanity seems to be inherent and never ending.
Putin is only six years short of Stalin in power. He will continue on unless assassinated.
Im my eighty years i have generally studied war starting with Genghis Kahn and his warrior sons where tribalism and religions come significantly into play. Will be interesting to see what the English poets do now. No saddle, riderless Drones charging forward bringing death and destruction to all. Confronted by technology's new weapon, light sabers in the sky!!!!
Worth reading through it.
My regrettable lack of attention to history for most of my life has left me regarding WW I more emotionally than from intellectual understanding. I have commented before in these pages about how my grandfather was imprisoned for being a conscientious objector, and that his younger brother died in prison for the same offense. I am grateful for this piece, which has greatly expanded my understanding of how stupid that war really was. You’ve also inspired me to do more research into the region—now Germany—that my ancestors immigrated from before 1871.
History is a hard teacher. No wonder so many fail.
Superb, and sad. Thank You Greg.