Saturday, April 10, 2010

Feedback on recent comments.

It is with embarrassment that I note that I have not posted for almost 3 months. I have been so busy writing articles and scripts that I failed to realise that none of it had gone on the blog. I promise to be better.

I will take the opportunity to thank the many people who have given me comments on the blog itself, or by e-mail or in person. It has been encouraging to hear that some of the articles have hit a nerve.

In fact I have had complaints about unfairness to particular nationalities from Australian, British, French, and American sources. This gives me a warm glow, because if I’m annoying everybody equally I must be succeeding.

In fairness, the ones who get the most shtick are the Americans, purely on the basis that it is their politics and culture which has had most effect on buggering up the last century. If I was mainly writing about the previous century, I would no doubt be giving the British the most shtick, whereas in the century before that it would have been the French, and the century before that the Dutch, and the century before that the Spanish, and the centuries before that the Mongol’s, and the centuries before that the Muslims, and the centuries before that the Romans, etc, probably back to the first trouble making walking fish that wandered on the dry land. In any century, he who carries the can, also gets to stink of garbage!

Addenda - Someone suggested I clarify this. So for example, find a quote from any European union political hack (particularly French) complaining about American operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000's, and compare it to what the American political hacks were saying about the British Empire in the early 1900's, or what the British were saying about Napoleon in the early 1800's, etc. You will find that the smug outrage the French have recently expressed at American actions sounds almost exactly the same as the self righteous bleatings of American 'democrats' about 'imperialism' a century earlier. (Amusingly, at the time the Americans were annexing Hawaii, and conquoring parts of central America and the Caribbean, etc.)

It is as easy to argue that the disasters of the last century - from the failure of the Versailles peace treaty to the great Depression, to the vast numbers of evil dictatorships spread in the name of republics - are largely the responsibility of Americans and their worldview: as it is to argue that the failures of the balance of power system of the previous century - and the distortion of the trade empires by middle-class morality and racism - are largely the responsibility of the British and their worldview. In both cases it is an exaggeration of their relative importance at the time, but not much more than the one that they were then claiming for their own systems. (See my post on the 19th century Crimean War as the first media war for instance.)

Some have complained that my dismissal of the affects of the Gallipoli landings, or the occupation of Afghanistan, mean that I am criticizing of valour or patriotism of those who fought on the ground. They need to look a little bit closer at the political systems that launched those events. The valiant and well-meaning soldiers who are doing their very best, deserve to be honored even if they fight for an evil system. The Spartans, Huns, Mongol’s, and Waffen SS, were often as brave, well-meaning, and dedicated to the cause (with in every case some evil and embarrassing specimens mixed in) as the troops of the ‘good-guys’. The fact that their cause may not have been a loveable one is the fault of the government, their education system, and very often their average voter: rather than of the men and women doing their best at the sharp end. (There you are, I have compared Anzac’s and GI’s to Mongol hordes and Storm-troopers in one paragraph. In each case I honored the troops while expressing concern at their causes, governments intentions and voters culpability for the results of their efforts. That should be good for some outrage from those who don’t read for context!)

I will make the following post on Singapore in 1942 sample of what I mean.

Keep the feedback coming.

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