History's Largest Lessons
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Donald Kagan argument on how historical analogy is still necessary in the understanding of the security interests of nations especially in relation to war is a sure prove that history has away of repeating itself. The basic historical formats are still being employed in war and other issues though the timing and events tend to differ. This is evident in the way human kinds react to the waging war demands in every era. It is clear that the reaction is surprisingly similar in many ways with all aimed at protecting the nation’s interests. The most striking similarity is in the choice of statesmen and soldiers. This similarity can be traced thousands of years back. At times, the usefulness of history come in handy in comprehending the modern times making this the subject of skepticism. Professor Kagan comes to the defense of history by claiming that for us to understand the modern world, there is no other surer source than to take lessons from history.
A prove to the above argument is how the past relates to the modern statesmen. There is no way the modern life can manage to evade the inclusion of history as most of its judgment depends on the likelihood of recurrences. Human behavior is made up of both contacts and discontinuities and without the two, our capacities to function in the modern world would have disappeared. A good example of this is the Peloponnesian War which later relates to the origins and causes of the First World War, the World War II and the Punic War (Kagan 2009). The relation of these wars clearly indicates that the historical analogues are not prone to obsolescence. There is a great similarity in the nature of problems and what motivates people to fight. The two have remained constant which is amazing as the same was witnessed even in the nuclear age. The main difference between the modern and the ancient times is in the economic reorganization that has been brought by industrial and Agriculture revolutions.
The quest of power is another sure prove of the greatest lessons learned from history. The main reason for war is to gain power and have personal wills prevail. Today, Britain and the United States as well as most of the European countries regard power as being inherently evil. Power has been appreciated as being morally neutral with most of the historical nations concerned with increasing and maintaining their power. This can still be witnessed in the twentieth century in relation to the United States avoidance and outbreak of war in this era. A good example is the collapse of the reversed power initially held by Russia leaving the United States to look at her as diminished country that is supposed to protract or appease its powerlessness (Ozment and Kagan 2009). Another example is China as a nation with both prosperity and strength from her rich history. China history is credited for its arrogance, brusque and aggressiveness in the way it dealt with its neighbors.
The modern America is the best representation of the new form of history. It brags of the strongest military power and greatest economic power today. This is an indication that the twentieth centaury history is marked with tremendous interest to maintain a status quo by being in a position to retain great power in the world. This can only be achieved by directing the course of events and avoid counting on the current fortunes while reacting to passive positions. America was keen in her reaction to specific situations and that showed any power dissipation can only lead to lack of proper track of events thus no history. Taking an example of the position taken by both the parties in the United States about the Vietnam War, there were a lot of disagreements on the position taken by either side but after the cold war, both sides became prone to embracing policies on international disengagement (Kagan 2000). The current American military is still displaying similar interest as those witnessed during the Vietnam War. The maritime strategies used during that war are still viable and are being used in the nation’s submarine and airpower forces. Thus it is evident that the modern world activities are being guided by the many lessons learned from our rich history.
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