When wars have lost their true spirit...

Jun 18, 2015

- By Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner
Paris, France

Dear Diary,

Nothing much in the financial news.

And the wars go on! And we're not against them. We might as well be against stomach gas - it will happen whether we like it or not.

But while real wars are glorious and moronic, zombie wars are just sordid are pathetic.

A new item in the Wall Street Journal tells us that our enemy's enemy is becoming our friend.

    BEIRUT-In the three-way war ravaging Syria, should the local al Qaeda branch be seen as the lesser evil to be wooed rather than bombed?

    This is increasingly the view of some of America's regional allies and even some Western officials. In a war now in its fifth year, in which 230,000 people have been killed and another 7.6 million uprooted, few good options remain for how to tackle the crisis.

These are not real wars. There are no real war aims, no enemy worthy of the name and no real victories. Instead, they are zombie wars. They go on and on...with changing targets and shifting alliances.

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Why do we never win? Because too many people benefit from losing. The media, the military, the contractors, the politicians, the low-lifes in Northern Virginia and the grandstanders in Congress, the CIA, the NSA - all have been zombified.

Jon Basil Utley in the American Conservative:

    America doesn't "win" its wars, because winning a war is secondary to other goals in our war making. Winning or losing has little immediate consequence for the United States, because the wars we start, Wars of Choice, are not of vital national interest; losing doesn't mean getting invaded or our cities being destroyed.
Instead, the contracts get rolled over. The promotions keep coming. The money flows. Politicians get elected. And the zombies prosper.

In some ways, these zombie wars are better than real wars. Fewer people are killed - at least fewer of our people.

But it must be hard for a real soldier to fight a zombie war and retain his self-respect. He must pass the statue of Marshal Michel Ney, hang his head and 'hold his manhood cheap.'

Ney - there was a real fighting man and a real hero. His life is almost fantastic. So many battles. So many close encounters with death. So much raw courage, so much bravado...and so little regard for his own self interest.

It was on this day 200 years ago that Ney was leading his army in a magnificently lunatic campaign. The irresistible force of his heavy cavalry met the immoveable object of the British squares - bristling with bayonets - in the final clash at Waterloo.

Among the hundreds of other battles and skirmishes in which Ney almost died, the Russian campaign stands out. He was one of the 300,000 soldiers who invaded Russia...and one of the 10,000 who got out alive.

In between, he went all the way - to Moscow and back - fighting the enemy and the cold the entire way. He got his fourth wound, in the neck, at Smolensk and then was wounded again at Leipzig. On the retreat, Ney commanded the rear guard, as the army desperately tried to make its escape. Temperatures fell to minus 30 degrees centigrade. Food disappeared. The wagons sank in the mud during the day and froze in the mud at night.

The soldiers of the Grande Armee were shot, hacked to death, starved, and frozen...battling against fierce Cossacks and regular Russian troops...over thousands of miles of barren territory. And there, always on the move, was Ney -- fighting, organizing, leading...driving his men onward, while charging the enemy to drive them back.

It was Ney who covered the retreat over the Berezina river. And it was Ney who was the last Frenchman to Russia. Napoleon named him the "Prince of Moscow."

Back at Waterloo, it was Ney who charged the British cannon and dispersed their defenders. But then, how was he to know that he would be driven away? How was he to blame for failing to spike the English guns, rendering them useless for the rest of the battle? Did he charge too soon? Should he have brought up the infantry sooner? Was he responsible for losing the battle?

After the cannons went silent and Napoleon limped back to Paris with what was left of his army, the complaints against Ney multiplied. And then, Bonaparte gave up...and the war was over.

Now it was the new government, once again under the Bourbons, who wanted Ney's head. He was tried for treason and found guilty. But unlike David Petraeus, who got nothing but a slap on the wrist for betraying his nation's secrets, Ney got the firing squad.

Ney took command, just as he had always taken command of the troops before him:

    "Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, fire!"

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

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