Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day, 2008: Or, if You Prefer, Veterans Day

Ninety years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, fighting ended in the Great War. We call it World War I.

It wasn't the 'war to end all wars,' didn't solve all the world's problems, cost around 10,000,000 lives, and ended in a treaty which I think was both vindictive and short-sighted.

On the other hand, although the 14 points weren't followed all that closely, ideas had been forced into consideration, like:
  • "People in European colonies should have a say in their future"
  • "The barriers to trade between countries such as custom duties should be removed"1
  • "All countries should reduce their armed forces to the lowest possible levels"2
  • "The national groups in Europe should, wherever possible, be given their independence"3
    ("World War One / The Treaty of Versailles")
Armistice Day is still celebrated in the Commonwealth, America, and France. In Germany, not so much. The focus has changed, from being a memorial of the Great War's end, to an occasion for remembering all who have served their countries: But I think it's a good idea to look back and see what started this day of remembrance.

Wouldn't it be Nice if there Weren't Any Wars?

I think it would have been nice if my Viking forebears had been less insistent about redistributing Europe's wealth a thousand years ago. And it would have been nice if my Viking and Celtic ancestors had both refrained from those colorful human sacrifices that were a cherished part of their cultural heritage.

Nice, yes. Human, no.

Any time you've got human beings in a culture, you're going to have trouble. That hasn't changed in the last several thousand years, and isn't likely to happen in the next few millennia, either. Deal with it.

But some people keep trying to make the bit of history they're living in a little better. I prefer to notice those efforts.

As I did last year, recalling what happened on September 11 of 2001, and current events, I recommend reading this quote:
"Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared to the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good."
Abraham Lincoln, Response to a serenade, November 10, 1864.
(See "Armistice Day" (Apathetic Lemming of the North (November 11, 2007))

1 I'm not a free trade purist, but I believe that in the long run even protected industries suffer, when deprived of competition.

2 The key phrase here is "all countries." I've run into too many people who seem to think that, as long as big, rough America would disarm: everything would be peachy. As the monks at Lindisfarne learned, only one side needs to be armed for an invasion to happen.

3 The 'deep thinkers' of my college days tended to forget that Europeans, and particularly Euro-Americans, are people too, and have many of the same needs and aspirations as non-western people.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.