Friday, May 18, 2007

Worst. War. Ever.

I truly don't understand the neocon obsession with calling the wars in Iraq/Afghanistan "World War IV." First of all, it sounds vaguely pathetic, like Apu insisting that back in the day they used to call him the Fifth Beatle. Secondly, it opens up the whole naming convention to abuse. Winston Churchill called the 7 Years War the First World War, so doesn't that make The Great War #2? But of course, the Great War itself was mainly confined (in terms of fighting and casualties) to a narrow stretch of land spanning France and Belgium. So it hardly seems fair to call it a World War. In most ways, the Peloponnesian War or the Punic War were more global than WWI.

Anyway, this is all just my long-winded way of saying that when Norman Podhoretz writes that World War IV is upon us, I'm really not interested except in an anthropological sense. Even monkeys flinging feces have some interesting behaviours to study, after all. But this really the most interesting bit to me:
Of course, by the grace of God, the dissidents behind the Iron Curtain, and Ronald Reagan, we won World War III and were therefore spared the depredations that Finlandization would have brought.
It's interesting to me, because one of the hallmarks of western thought since, oh, Herodotus has been the movement away from the supernatural explanations of human events. But here we are -- Ronald Reagan is elected President not because of race-baiting, incompetent Democrats, or any material, tangible cause. Nope, "by the grace of God" the Cold War ended. It's beneath serious thought. But that goes without saying -- Norman Podhoretz wrote it.

1 comment:

jamie_nicholls said...

I find your war naming a bit confusing. You refer that the main theatre of the first world war was in France and Belgium which I think does not do justice to the theatre in the Ottoman Empire's territories. It can be said that even this inclusion does not justify the term World war however I think it is too hard to dismiss WWI as a solely western european war.