‘The Future of War: A History’ could be a bit more forward-looking

The saying “all is fair in love and war” has passed into platitude, but it’s true that with romance as well as bloodshed, we prepare for the next one mainly by worrying about the mistakes of the last conflict.

Lawrence Freedman’s The Future of War: A History is only about the more martial of the two human endeavors, but there’s a lot to love in it.

Across 287 pages of prose, Freedman’s book is part retro-futurism, part dissertation on the difficulties of determining what actually is a war and who died in one, and, finally, part looking forward at the sort of armed conflicts yet to come.

It doesn’t all fit together seamlessly, or read equally engagingly, but Freedman shows his homework regardless of topic, and there’s an additional 45 pages of notes and 28 pages just devoted to bibliography if warfare of the recent past, present, and future pique your interest.

For non-specialists, the most enjoyable portion is, thankfully, the first bit.

Continue reading ‘The Future of War: A History’ could be a bit more forward-looking

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Texas named its counties for a lot of horrible people. Mathew Ector is one of them

As memorials to slavers and other Confederate heroes have been removed from public and otherwise challenged in recent months, a common complaint is that, by doing this, we’re forgetting our history or erasing it.

In my home county, we still have the historical marker its namesake:

Created February 26, 1887 from Tom Green County organized January 15, 1891, named in honor of Matthew Duncan Ector 1822-1879. Member of the Texas legislature a confederate officer and outstanding jurist Odessa, The County Seat.

Indeed, Ector (his first name was actually spelled Mathew) was a Confederate brigadier general and later a Texas high court judge. As a jurist, he’s most notable for re-affirming racist marriage laws after Reconstruction.

In 1878’s Charles Frasher v. the State of Texas, presiding judge Ector wrote:

Continue reading Texas named its counties for a lot of horrible people. Mathew Ector is one of them

Racism is a grandfathered in to American society

This criticism doesn’t mean that all white people are the devil, that malice or active racism are necessary. A hermit frontiersman in the 1800s might have had no opinion on slavery or even been against it morally.

But the act of doing nothing is tacit support of the status quo.

An auto union worker in the 1940s and ’50s may have thought segregation was wrong, but if they felt that opposition to anti-lynching bills in the Senate were equally important as economic policy, then their tacit support for a dehumanizing system of oppression is based on racism because it says that mobs torturing and murdering a man, woman, or child with impunity isn’t so important if that person is black.

In the same way, if you say that regularly stopping and frisking black and Latino people without any reasonable suspicion is just one of many issues, it’s because you think it’s unlikely to affect you or people like yourself, so you don’t care that much.

Malice is not required; apathy is more than sufficient.

Continue reading Racism is a grandfathered in to American society

A short history of everybody for the past 13,000 years

Editor and fellow columnist Gene Powell reads much more than I do and usually does the book reviews. Well, I’ve read two books, written by different authors for different reasons, and written years ago, but together they’re histories of the world, part one from 11,000 B.C. to A.D. 1,500, and part two from A.D. 1500 to 2000.

No, they’re not related to the Mel Brooks film. Sorry.

Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” is based on geographic determinism, why where people are from resulted in the state of the world today.

Continue reading A short history of everybody for the past 13,000 years

For all those who doubt, God is real — and Spanish

The other day, I heard a pastor preach about how uniquely divinely blessed America was, and I wondered if he was right.

As I see it, no group of people has been more fortunate than the Spanish.

Continue reading For all those who doubt, God is real — and Spanish