Friday, July 17, 2015

Antony Beevor.

This is coolbert:

From that latest edition of: "BBC HISTORY" magazine June 2015.

Some comments from the distinguished historian Antony Beevor.

1. With regard to what is termed the intelligence problem:

"[it is] one of the great failings of the intelligence world . . . when one tries to put oneself in an opponent's shoes, one is actually make a slight mistake. You're still trying to perceive things from opponent's view but with your mentality and your calculations on how you'd react in that particular situation."

2. With regard to "learning lessons" from history:

"The Second World War has become the dominant reference point for every single conflict and crisis today. But let's face it; the international relations in today's global world are more like a pinball machine with things bouncing off in different directions, it's almost impossible to predict."

"Even Churchill made the astonishing mistake of saying that we need to learn history so that we can understand the future. But that's rubbish; we're never going to learn about the future because we learn the wrong things from history, and to try to make superficial parallels with what we're to make facing today. For god's sake, don't think that things are going to be like the Second World War today. Warfare has changed and the world order has changed."

And that response to item # 2 from a person of some stature who has more than a passing interest and knowledge of the subject:

"I respectfully disagree. We do learn basic principles from history: 1. trust but verify; 2. don't make agreements without the ability to back up punishment for violations; 3. don't allow dictators to take the first small steps in aggression; 4. if at war, keep fighting while the talks are going on; and so on. 5. And never waste your time on small [idiocy] like the size and shape of the negotiating table, height of the flags on the table etc. If you are dealing with that stuff, forget the negotiations and get back to the war. The other side is not serious yet. Yes, we can learn from history"


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