The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Do you remember Rudyard Kipling’s great poem “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”? The whole thing is very much worth reading. Today’s headlines, however bring this  powerful stanza to mind:


When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.

“They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.”  Sound familiar?

Meanwhile, the U.S. army, because of the Obama administration’s military cuts, is cashiering 550 majors.  Some are getting the news while on duty in Afghanistan. And that’s after 1200 captains got the news that their services were no longer required by the army.

A couple more data points from this morning’s headlines, courtesy of the Drudge Report:

And so on.

Also out today is a report from an independent panel appointed by the Pentagon and Congress warning that “President Obama’s strategy for sizing the armed services is too weak for today’s global threats.”  The shrinking US armed forces, the report cautioned, is a “serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States,” “inadequate given the future strategic and operational environment.”

It is still August 3rd in the United States as I write, but in Melbourne, Australia, where I am at the moment, it is the morning of August 4, the centenary of Britain’s entry in WWI. There are many events planned to commemorate that awesome moment. At first, the war was greeted by many heedless people on both sides with jubilation. “We’ll be home by Christmas,” etc., etc.


Then came the slaughter of the first battle of the Marne in September. Altogether, that little outing cost more than 500,000 casualties in about a week. Four years later, much of Europe lay in ruins, tens of millions were dead, three empires had vanished from the face of the earth, and European civilization as it had been known lay devastated, never to recover.

“The story of the human race,” Winston Churchill wrote at the end of his 3-volume history of the Great War, “is war. Except for brief and precarious interludes there has never been peace in the world.” Wise men acknowledge that truth and behave accordingly.  We do not have wise men leading us in Washington.  The preposterous folly that is the Obama administration — its arrant lawlessness, its race baiting, its spectacular maladministration — looks more and more like a dangerous prelude to disaster.  There are plenty of voices speaking up to call attention to this malignant burlesque.  Mostly, they fall on deaf ears.  Let’s hope that people awaken from their dogmatic slumbers before the rest of Kipling’s poem has a chance to come true.



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