Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Magazine article The Spectator

High Life: Taki

Article excerpt

The time-honoured saying that England's great battles have been won on the playing fields of Eton is a lot of hooey. Blücher was the real winner against Napoleon at Waterloo, and the only thing he said to Wellington after the battle was 'Quelle affaire!' (Hardly an Old Etonian expression.) England's great battles have been won by some Old Etonians, to be sure, but the heavy lifting has been done by England's allies, such as the Yanks in the first world war and the Russians in the second. If that ogre Woodrow Wilson had not sold his soul to the bankers and kept America out of the war, I am convinced we'd be in far better shape today. The bankers had loaned lotsa moolah to the Anglo-French but Germany was winning the war and the money men were up shit creek. So Wilson sent in the doughboys, as they were called, and F. Scott Fitzgerald movingly wrote about American farm boys dying on the Somme.

What bothers me is that no one ever learns from the past. Our politicians are by far the worst we've ever had, certainly in America, which is totally controlled by special interests and the Israeli lobby. And the news media are just as bad. Bill Kristol is a small, fat, ugly man who wants Uncle Sam to bomb and invade countries he and Israel don't like. Dick Cheney is a cowardly person who avoided the draft during Vietnam (six deferments) but is now asking for more blood to be shed. The neocons and the George W. gang lied us into war 11 years ago, but none of them has lost his place on think tanks or in the media. Today, if they could, they'd fight on three fronts: Syria, Iran and Ukraine. When I say they would fight, I of course mean that others would do the dying.

There is an unbridgeable existential divide between those who do the fighting and the cowardly sofa samurai who bang the war drums. Papa Hemingway once wrote that abstract words such as honour, glory and courage were obscene, and the only words that had dignity were the names of villages and rivers, and the number of regiments. Unlike Blair, Cheney, Kristol, Podhoretz, the Kagans and their ilk, Hemingway had seen war from up close and had been seriously wounded in 1917 in the Tyrolean Alps. He spent the Spanish Civil War in Madrid, boozing it up and servicing Martha Gellhorn, and never flinched during the bombing, refusing to go to the shelter. …

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