Chou-en-Lai’s remark about the French Revolution (either 1789; or 1968) when asked about how it had fared is perhaps typical of the man; and alarmingly concise and accurate when you also remember that he was a military man as well as being a politician. How many times in the past two-three hundred years have political leaders led, massaged or demanded action; usually military: which has ended up with exactly the reverse of that which was hoped for by those same politicians.
Offhand, without serious research, I can think of only two Declarations of War which were, upon reflection, necessary: one was ours in 1939 against Germany: the other was ours (again) against the French and its dictator Bonaparte.
Imagine what would have been the outcome if a political leader, such as Bush, or Blair, or Cameron (although a political pygmy, he was unfortunately, our prime minister) had been given both advice which mirrored that action taken, as well as a considered advice to do nothing; and a study of the possible outcomes of both actions? Let us look at three decisions which had vastly different outcomes to those envisaged before that decision was made.
In the years leading up to the First World War, imagine what would have been the outcome if all those intertwined politically-motivated Treaties between European Nations had not been signed? A minor figure in Mid-European Royalty was assassinated; and instead of major and minor powers becoming entangled in a trench-based war where millions died for very little gain: the Russian empire would not have fallen; the foul stench of Communism would have been stifled before it was even born; the world would have sent minor figures to the funeral, and that would have been it!
Just consider what would have been the outcome if President Roosevelt had not ordered the iron and oil embargo against a resurgent Japan because of their Chinese invasion, instead of conniving with his secret emissary to engineer a War against the best-equipped and best-led military and naval force in the whole of the Pacific Rim? America would probably not have become the World Power it is today, as the force, the raison d’être; for enabling the mighty rearmament and militarisation process which turned America from a sleeping giant to the ferocious militant nation it became; never, ever occurred. Isolationism was the main theme in politics, and after America’s involvement in WW1, there were too many ex-military men in positions of power and influence. The entire global history of the 1940’s onwards would be totally different; just think of the difference of not having America literally sustaining Great Britain during her battles with Nazi Germany.
Just consider what the outcome would have been if Blair had said ‘Hang about a bit’ when Bush asked him to help complete the job in Iraq. Afghanistan would have never been denuded of American forces just when they were needed to complete the push against the Taliban, and who knows what may have not occurred in the years since?
Imagine if the armoured columns which Gaddafi had sent towards Benghazi had not been stopped by French air power? Imagine what may have happened if the British strikes and American back-up, sig-int and overwhelming superiority in airpower had never been available? The Libyan ‘Arab Spring’ would probably been stifled at birth; the Benghazi defenders would have been wiped out, Gaddafi would have ruled on, and the Outlaw State which Libya has become would simply never have emerged: and we would not have half-a-million “migrants” queuing up for a boat ride to benefits galore in Europe.
Every Saturday morning, I read a section printed from the Telegraph Archives of WW1. It is a sobering five-odd minutes, but necessary for us all to remember that we went into that War with our eyes tight shut, dependent upon faulty information, loosely-written Treaties, and a blind faith that we knew what we were about to do! It was only blind luck which kept us out of the modern ground morass which is Syria, and these bloody Westminster politicians are forever inventing places for us to go and bomb something, even if it is a North Korea, from an aircraft carrier which hasn’t got any bloody jets at all!