October 11, 2014
The time-honored saying that England’s great battles have been won on the playing fields of Eton is a lot of hooey. Blücher was the real winner against Napoleon at Waterloo, and the only thing he said to Wellington after the battle was “Quelle affaire!” (Hardly an old Eton expression.) England’s great battles have been won by some old Etonians, to be sure, but the heavy lifting has been done by England’s allies, like the Yanks in World War I and the Russians in World War II. If that ogre Woodrow Wilson had not sold his soul to the bankers and had kept America out of the war I am convinced we’d be in far better shape today. The bankers had loaned lotsa moolah to the Anglo-French but Germany was winning the war and the Shylocks were up shit creek. So Wilson sent in the doughboys, as they were called, and F. Scott Fitzgerald movingly wrote about American farm boys dying in the Somme.
What bothers me is that no one, ever, learns from the past. Our politicians are now by far the worst we’ve ever had, certainly in America, totally controlled by special interests and the Israeli lobby. And the news media are just as bad. Bill Kristol is a small fat ugly man who wants Uncle Sam to bomb and invade countries he and Israel don’t like. Dick Cheney is a cowardly person who avoided the draft during Vietnam (five deferments) but is now asking for more blood to be shed. The neocons and the George W. gang lied us into war 11 years ago but none of them have lost their places on think tanks or in the media. Today, if they could, they’d fight on three fronts, Syria, Iran, and Ukraine. When I say they would fight I mean that others would do the dying.
There is an unbridgeable existential division between those who do the fighting and the cowardly sofa samurai that bang the war drums. Papa Hemingway once wrote that abstract words such as honor, glory, and courage were obscene, and the only words that had dignity were the names of villages, of rivers, and the number of regiments. Unlike Blair, Cheney, Kristol, Podhoretz, the Kagans, and their ilk, Hemingway had seen war from up close and had been seriously wounded in the Tyrolean Alps in 1918. He spent the Spanish civil war in Madrid, boozing it up and servicing Martha Gellhorn, and never flinched during the bombing, refusing to go to the shelter. He then led his own army of hangers-on to Paris and liberated the Ritz while some German units were still in the suburbs. Yet this very brave man called the words used by Tony Blair and other physical cowards exhorting us to back wars obscene, nothing but warmongering slogans.