Some things never change.

Sunday, August 20, 2006
It's been a while since I wrote about anything serious. I've tried to avoid blogging about all the Canadian soldiers being killed in Afghanistan, American involvement in Iraq, Israel/Lebanon, and Harper's No-Show at the International Aids Conference in Toronto because I feel as though I'm getting burnt out by the news. It reminds me a lot of how I felt in the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks on the US - emotionally drained. Rodney King hit the nail on the head when he asked "Why can't we all just get along?".

I just finished my latest book: Arthur Herman's "To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World". I originally picked it up because of my love of sailing ships and 18/19th century naval battles. I was certainly not disappointed. It was fascinating to see how the evolution of the British navy helped shape the world as we know it. I learned a great deal despite the grammatical errors and what I believe is at least one factual error - Herman claims it was Ralph Hallowell who commanded the Swiftsure at the Battle of the Nile and had the coffin made for Nelson out of the Orient's mast. However, everything I've found has indicated it was Benjamin Hallowell not Ralph, who was his son and would not have been old enough to sail as a midshipman or even a powder monkey, let alone as Captain. I've also learned the origin a number of phrases some of which I've wrote about previously.

However, back to the point of this post. Some things never change. The book covers everything from Drake, Hawke, Nelson, through to the two world wars and the Falkland Islands. I came across the following during Herman's discussion of the peace negotiations following the Great War (page 518):

Versailles had failed precisely where the Congress of Vienna had succeeded. In 1919, it was the United States, not Britain, that set the agenda for the new moral world order, but Woodrow Wilson was no Castlereagh. Britain's goal in 1815 was a "just equilibrium" in Europe and collective security. Wilson's was "to make the world safe for democracy" - a much more ambitious, and nebulous, aim. Despite the years of bloodshed France had caused, Castlereagh had reserved his moral outrage for fighting the slave trade. Wilson, by contrast, felt a deep bitterness toward Germany, especially after a U-boat sank the Irish Mail steamer Leinster, killing 450 men, women, and children in October 1918...

Now, granted Wilson and the rest of the world had every reason to be outraged by Germany's action considering the sinking took place 11 days after Germany had asked Wilson to mediate a peace. However, as Herman stated, Castlereagh, 100 years earlier, had managed to put aside his bitterness towards France and realized that peace could not be obtained and would not be maintained by crushing the French people. If anything, it would have the opposite effect which is exactly what happened with Germany in retailiation for Wilson's actions against them following the Great War.

As I read the quote yesterday "to make the world safe for democracy" I wondered why the words rang with such familiarity. Then it hit me. George Dubya. Its the same argument he's been using in his search for Osama and justification for his involvement in Iraq. Seriously, how hard can it be to find this guy...oh wait! Perhaps they don't want to find him... After all, wasn't Al Qaeda's supposed connections to Iraq and the "evidence" (HA!) of weapons of mass destruction that "allowed" Dubya to invade Iraq? Seriously, I hate that man (George). Like Wilson's actions almost 90 years ago, he's heading us towards a global conflict the likes of which the world has not seen before. I am scared for our future, everyone's future.


Candy Minx said...

A blog pal in India just made a comment at my blog "democracy is just eyewash, Candy".

Hmm...have you seen Syriana? Depressing.

Really enjoyed this, I like books on sailing too, perhaps a bit more of the personal sail boat story...although it sure sounds like you got right into this. It feels good doesn't it? I read mostly non-fiction,and I canèt wait to get the time to snuggle into a chair and read for five hours...

not today though!
Cheers Karen,

Karen said...

Hi Candy: Nope have not seen Syriana yet but have heard a lot of interesting things about it. Saw the "review" on your blog - I'll definately be renting it soon.

Over the past 6 months or so, I've "rediscovered" the joys of reading. I've read 12 books since April/May, mostly nonfiction. I find that fiction just doesn't grab me like it used to anymore. My wishlist on Amazon is now up to 11 pages...oh if only I had the money to buy them and the time to read. That would be the perfect job! Reading and reading for hours on end (and purely for enjoyment!).

Wandering Coyote said...

You would so get along with my dad. He's a military history fanatic, too. I got him "To Rule the Waves" for Christmas a couple years ago and he loved it.

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