There are many lessons to the past, but there are just as many new exploits which will come to fruition the future. We would be wise to understand our past, and learn from those mistakes, while also innovating for our future, all the while creating it. There are those who study the past, and there are those that create the future. And I believe it’s best to do both, especially when it comes to military affairs of the state.
In the book “Strategy for Defeat of the Luftwaffe: 1933 – 1944” by Williamson Murray there is a rather significant notation in the foreword which was written by Robert C Mathis a retired general with United States Air Force. In the foreword he clearly states the following;
“Military history is a window through which we may study the lessons of the past combat. These lessons become clear only after thoughtful examination of events and factors that influenced them. Organizations that have not been willing to examine the past, especially their own, have usually paid a price for that oversight.”
Well, Robert C Mathis, and Williamson Murray surely ought to know from all their studies of military history. We would all be naïve not to study the mistakes of the past, not only our enemies, but also our own. We would also be wise to study this history without blinding ourselves to the reality, or attempting to put forth preconceived notions of false history based on the status quo and the fact that often history is really written by the victors in their favor.
“Those who fail to study their history are doomed to repeat it,” and indeed those famous words are spoken more often than not when it comes to men who look back and use those references in making decisions in the present period.
Nevertheless, I would like to suggest there is a corollary to this. It would be unwise to assume that history will always repeat, and to keep making the decisions based on the past, if we wish to break through to a new paradigm, and harness the opportunities in the present to propel us into a better future. It makes no sense to box in our decision-making ability, by always looking backwards, and never looking forwards.
Those who make history are generally very bold, and they are the unreasonable man. Often they do something which may be considered at the time less than prudent, but history rewards them dearly in namesake for their efforts. That’s not to say we should deny the mistakes of the past, it’s just to remind ourselves that “the only constant is change,” which was also a famous quote by Einstein.
Let’s not be so naïve to think that nothing will ever change, and all we need to do is look backwards at the past to propel mankind into the future. If we do that all forward progress stops, therefore we must think beyond time; past, present, and future. Indeed it is my hope that you will please consider all this and think on it, especially when it comes to the defense of our great nation.