Updating Santayana

For years and years, it’s been very fashionable to quote Santayana’s famous caution: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And while I would never question its wisdom, I think I have developed my own corollary:

Those who incessantly study history are doomed to re-create it.

This morning’s Boston Globe gave me the perfect example.

First, I discovered this story. It seems that the Kurds in Iraq are getting mixed signals (and who can blame them?) about whether or not we will keep our promises to them. On the one hand, the “surge” (or whatever we’re calling it this week) is showing true promise for curbing the ongoing violence in Iraq. On the other hand, actions in Congress and the result of last November’s election show a serious wavering in our commitment.

So, what do they have to worry about? Well, thanks to the Boston Globe’s conservative columnist (they would have fired him years ago, but he managed to get himself declared an endangered species) Jeff Jacoby shows us just where that sort of thing led to before.

The Kurds have been far, far better friends to the West than we deserve. We’ve repeatedly broken promises and pledges and commitments to them, all in the name of “realpolitik,” and each and every time they have paid the price with their dearest blood. Even lately, those who say that Saddam never had any WMDs are building their lies on the corpses of thousands and thousands of Kurds gassed to death by the Butcher of Baghdad.

Thirty years ago, the Left argued that a war-wracked country would be far better off if we just up and left, and let them sort it out themselves. That ended up with the Killing Fields and over a million human beings slaughtered — a per-capita ratio that outgrosses Hitler’s Holocaust.

I wonder how many Kurds will die if the Left prevails yet again, and if enough Kurds will survive to once again depend on the hollow promises of the West at some point in the future.

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