As my wife noticed every year I re-read the Guns of August. I think it’s very important to not only remember the lessons of Vietnam and World War 2, but the lessons of wars before that. Particularly World War 1 because it came at the end of a long period of general peace between the great powers , just like we have now.
As I’m a bit of a navel fan one of the most interesting stories to me is the pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau, two German ships in Mediterranean Sea at the very start of the war. British ships were ordered to intercept him including some commanded by Rear Admiral Ernest Troubridge.
Troubridge following a strict interpretation of his rules of engagement considered the ships a superior force and declined to engage. Accused of cowardice and court martialed he was acquitted but his career ended at that moment.
That would have been quite a shock to his ancestor Sir Thomas Troubridge who served with Nelson at St. Vincent, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Aboukir Bay and was the first Baron of the Troubridge Baronets.
It wasn’t fear of the reality of the early 20th century Royal Navy of Ernest Troubridge. It was fear of the memory of the early 19th century Royal Navy of his ancestor Thomas Troubridge and Lord Nelson.
And that’s how we get to Israel and the Middle east today. It hasn’t just been the fear of Israel’s nuclear power it has been the memory of each Israeli Victory in 1948 , 1956, 1967, 1973 and the willingness of Israel to do what had to be done to win.
The question on Iranian nukes really comes down to one thing: When the UN and the US under president Obama “fail” (assuming they are actually trying) to restrain Iran will today’s Israel act differently than the Israel of 40 years ago. Will it be Thomas Troubridge or will it be Ernest Troubridge? Iran, Europe and President Obama are betting on Ernest. I think it will be Thomas.