Submitted by William Bonner, Chairman – Bonner & Partners
Today, on the eve of the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo, we do not celebrate war. Only a fool would celebrate something so horrible. But we pay our respects to the glorious imbecility of it.
War may be dreadful, little more than a racket in many ways, but it is also a magnificent undertaking. It engages the heart and the brain at once and exposes both the genius of our race and its incredible stupidity.
But we are talking about real war. Not phony wars against enemies who pose no real threat. Phony wars earn real profits for the war industry, but only an ersatz glory for the warriors. Real soldiers take no pride in them. Instead, to a real hero, they are a source of shame and embarrassment.
Wars are not conducted to “Free the Holy Land.” Or “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” Or “Rid the World of Tyrants.” Or “Fight Terrorism.” Those are only the cover stories used by the jingoists to get the public to surrender its treasure… and its sons. Wars are fought to release the fighting spirit – that ghost of many millennia – in the scrap for survival.
And so it was that, 200 years ago tomorrow, one of the greatest military geniuses of all time, Napoleon Bonaparte, faced the armies of the Seventh Coalition – principally, the British, under the Duke of Wellington, and the Prussians, under Gebhard von Blücher.
Napoleon Bonaparte, born in Ajaccio, Corsica, later emperor of France and famous (and usually victorious) general, and later still, pensioner on the island of St. Helena
Painting by Paul De La Roche, 1814
Napoleon had been run out of France, but he had come back. The veterans of the Napoleonic Wars rallied to his cause, and he soon had an army of 73,000 seasoned soldiers. Moving fast, he put his forces in his favored “central position” between Wellington and Blücher. Continue reading