Jeffrey Simpson, in today's Globe and Mail, refers to an essay written by British MP and historian Rory Stewart. The subject of the essay is the British invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 1838 until 1842:
“Whatever decisions were made, there would have been no happy ending. A foreign army, isolated in Kabul, propping up an unpopular ruler in the face of a growing insurgency could not succeed. To maintain security, they needed to create a new Afghan army, which required taxation and expenditure. This created enemies and required a resource base, which Afghanistan did not have. They therefore relied on enormous – and unsustainable – amounts of foreign funding (which in turn fuelled corruption.)”
The passage begs the question which Pete Seeger asked in "Where Have All The Flowers Gone:" When will they ever learn? The president who launched the war possesses a bachelor's degree from Yale and a graduate degree from Harvard. His vice president dropped out of a doctoral program. But both men had actively sought to avoid military service.
It's something to think about when Stephen Harper, who likes to burnish his credentials as an economist -- with a Master's degree from the University of Alberta -- talks about the need to use force against Iran. Mr. Harper couldn't make it through boot camp.
There is a knowledge that goes beyond advanced degrees. Unfortunately, the people who are beating the drums of war these days don't possess it. And, if we follow their lead, history will repeat itself.