Monday, October 20, 2008
As one looks back over the millennia of human existence on the 3rd Rock from the Sun there are a couple of things that seemingly have always been there. There has always been family. There has always been religion. And there has always been war. It amazes me just how constant these features are in the human experience.
About two weeks ago I was in Borders with Rachael and Talya looking for the latest volume in the Eragon series and came across a book whose title and cover just caught my fancy ... it was Ed Strosser & Michael Prince's Stupid Wars: A Citizen's Guide to Botched Putsches, Failed Coups, Inane Invasions & Ridiculous Revolutions. The German soldier on the front was in the same tradition as those dudes in a Guiness commercial. This book is a delight to read. The prose are fluid and digested with ease. As I finished the book I began to ask myself what are the stupidest wars that have been fought. There are so many and how to pick just the ones as the stupidest?? Now I agree with the authors and would list all in the book as "stupid" but how about stupidest? What would your list look like? Here is mine or at least some of them ...
The Persian invasion of Greece (4th century BC) which ultimately lead to her complete destruction at the hands of Alexander the Great.
The Bar Kokhba Revolt against the Roman Empire in the second century AD. Led to the conversion of Jerusalem into a center for Jupiter worship and Jews being literally banned from the city.
The Fourth Crusade of 1198 AD has got to be one of the stupidest episodes in recorded history. Supposedly to rescue the "holy land" from the infidel Muslims the Christians instead destroyed one of the jewels of the ancient world ... Constantinople!
Leaping over hundreds of stupid wars we come to the 20th century. The stupid wars in the 20th century are legion. Some you are probably aware of and some you may not be.
How about the invasion/intervention of the United States of Russia in 1918. Now most Americans have never even heard of this but it happened nonetheless. The US participated in an abortive attempt to overthrow Lenin and the Communists. General William Graves, commander of the American forces, retired from the Army in 1928 and wrote a book damning the entire episode. He said, "I was in command of the United States troops sent to Siberia and, I must admit, I do not know what the United States was trying to accomplish by military intervention." (for those looking for an introduction to this forgotten stupid war look into Robert J. Maddox's "The Unknown War with Russia: Wilson's Siberian Intervention"). It was interesting that the first time I ever heard of this war it was from ... a Russian!
Hitler's invasion of Russia in 1941 was incredibly stupid. The carnage of the Eastern Front is completely lost on most Westerners. Battles like Stalingrad and Kursk give a new definition to death. More soldiers died Kursk in a day than the Americans have lost in both Persian Gulf wars combined.
I know it will draw fire but I will mention it any way but the US invasion of Iraq was stupid. I opposed it before it happened but it has turned out to be a very dumb war.
It is important to make this observation, and we see its truth in the words quoted above from General Graves, the average soldier never fights a stupid war. The average soldier gets caught in a stupid war by even stupider politicians. Soldiers, like Graves, served someone elses policy. So I am not criticizing any soldier, sailor or airmen ... but simply listing some of the stupidest wars in history in which thousands of soldiers and civilians have suffered and died ... often because of an ego that a delusional politician had.
So what would be on your list ...