Are We Slow Learners?

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u201CThat’s not the way the world really works anymore. . . . We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.u201D

~ A senior Bush administration adviser, 2002

A large number of Americans believe we are an “Exception to Historyu201D; brighter, richer, and just all around more Providentially Blessed, even when it appears this year with respect to wars, hurricanes, and just plain corruption and lies, that our leader may have lost the “Mandate of Heaven.”

It may be that we are just, as a People, simply slow learners!

Even if you teach all of the people all of the time, some folks just don’t learn very quickly, that the top of the stove is often hot to the touch. It appears, at times, that we even elevate one of these slow learners to the presidency, in order to better teach the rest of us by his example!

Anna Quinlan reminds us that we’ve been through this whole scenario before.

A historian might suggest to her, actually, this is at least the third time, and maybe, we have to hope this is not like baseball — 3 strikes and you’re out — and that we will have to wait as long as the Chicago White Sox did, to have a shot at a World Series again.

In the Philippines over a century ago, we killed and tortured at least several hundred thousand Filipinos, although it may have been many more, losing a mere 4,000 Providentially Blessed American soldiers who gave their lives for the Empire. This “success” was due in great part because the Filipinos had few guns, having often to use bolo knives, to face American rifles, machine guns and artillery. Like the Vietnamese, the Iraqis do have guns and explosives!

While we were still diddling around setting up a “regime change” Protectorate in Cuba, we overwhelmed the Filipino revolutionaries, and set up a government of the old, Spanish Comprador elite, that men like Gov. Gen. William Howard Taft out in the Islands, to use today’s terminology, would surely have proclaimed a great success in “Nation Building.”

Those Americans who believe that, might read the five-part series by Pedro Escobar in the Asia Times some months ago, entitled “The Sick Man of Asia,” detailing the corruption and instability in those Islands today. Apparently, Nations don’t stay Built! A good case could be made that this is about where things would be if we had simply left them with Spain. Most likely, with a little help somewhere along the line from the Japanese, they would have freed themselves from the Spanish anyway.

Perhaps America needs a new Motto: “Those who refuse to learn from History are doomed to repeat it.”

Actually, at this point, our nation is bankrupt, not only morally, but financially as well, and that inflationary trend was evident several decades ago.

A number of historians, going back to the ancient empires of old, have remarked on a seeming 300-year cycle of the high tide of imperial power. At this point, what remains, is to speculate whether our Empire will even make it into that less than charming circle!

William Marina [send him mail] is Professor Emeritus in History at Florida Atlantic University, a Research Fellow of the Independent Institute, Oakland, CA, and Executive Director of the Marina-Huerta Educational Foundation. He lives in Asheville, NC. This article originally appeared on the History News Network.

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