Addressing insurgency: a sinking ship

In the words of George Santayana, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

The wars and insurgencies that continue to plague humanity in the Middle East were predictable. It is difficult to believe that any substantive plan was in place at the beginning. The U.S. Military only recently revised its approach to addressing the rising levels of insurgency in November 2005.

The current administration seems bent on perpetuating a losing battle knowing that there can be no good end to the “conflict.” If they are not smart enough to get it, then their election to trusted positions is evidence of America’s failure to think critically during national elections.

In the words of George Santayana, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

Here is an example. Perhaps one might see parallels.

In 1912, the White Star Line had just finished building the Titanic. As the third such ship, it embodied a new century’s state of the art ship building.

Promotional literature called the Titanic “unsinkable,” and Captain Smith believed it. Also, the White Star Line didn’t think there was a need for many useless lifeboats. They were unsightly and the passengers might be alarmed to see so many lifeboats on an unsinkable steamship.

After an expensive promotional campaign with great fanfare, they embarked on a historic voyage. But, below the decks, far from the public’s eyes, a coal bin fire was already burning with no immediate remedy. Because of the way the coal bins were partitioned, the fire was unreachable. But the ship sailed on.

The strategy was to stoke the boilers with more coal in order to use more coal, thus evacuating a path to the fire. Doing this increased the ship’s speed.

The Captain was aware that the ship had entered a field of icebergs. But, since the ship was unsinkable, the order was to stay the course.

We all know what happened. It sank. What we don’t know today about the wreck will probably never be known. A lot of documentation does exist. This, I suspect, is because the sinking was slow and they had time to work carefully on the paper trail. Appearances, even then, were everything.

But oh, what a sweet story of how Captain Smith jumped into the water with a little girl in his arms. He then swam to a lifeboat, handed her to out stretched arms in the boat and refused to be rescued saying, “I will follow the ship.”

Marcus Morrill is a University employee. Please send comments to [email protected]