Civil Wars

Yesterday afternoon I was watching this documentary series on the History Channel about the American Revolution (if you missed it, I’m sure they’ll show it again next July 4th). One episode was about Britain’s southern strategy and how it all went wrong. The British, you see, had stepped into a hornet’s nest in the Carolinas. Loyalist and Patriot militias were terrorizing the countryside. The British made matters worse by issuing an “if you aren’t with us, you’re against us” decree. They looked at the situation as putting down a revolt. What was really going on, however, was what could be considered the first American civil war.

On paper it seemed simple enough. The British had the support of the Loyalist militias, while the small Continental army had the support of the Patriot militias. The war, however, was much more complicated on the ground. The various militias used the war as an excuse to settle old scores, seize disputed land, and persecute vendettas. Attacks led to retribution, which led to counter-attacks and so on. In hundreds of small battles American fought American with nary a redcoat a sight. It was a vicious circle of sectarian violence and the British army walked into the middle of it. They didn’t know the lay of the land or the local politics. Their only real chance was to corner and destroy the Continental army and hope the countryside would fall in line. When this failed, their southern strategy was in shambles.

I’m sure the astute among you can see the parallels with the quagmire in Iraq. The biggest difference is that the British at least had a rebel army it could attack in open battle. The American army in Iraq doesn’t even have that as a target. Nor does it really have the support of a group like the Loyalists. The army is simply stuck in the midst of a civil war, with no clear goals and no realistic strategy. Such are the perils of imperialist ambitions.

A Double Dose of Temptation

I had a busy weekend so I’m looking forward to having tomorrow off. I had a bunch of GR stuff to do on Saturday and then on Sunday I spoke at A Writer’s Weekend, a yearly event in which aspiring writers get a chance to talk to other writers, literary agents, and so on. This was my first time there. I joined ex-WotC-ites Wolf Baur and Scott Hungerford on both the World Building and Writing for Shared Wolds panels. They both went well, but the first was much better attended than the second because the latter was up against a seminar by a bounty hunter giving tips on writing violence. I hear he had great stories to tell.

Today was a double dose of temptation. First, the market across the street from Flying Lab announced that they have brought in Junior’s cheesecake from Brooklyn. This is the cheesecake by which I judge all others and now I can get it anytime I want. That is very dangerous. We also discovered that a new game store opened not two blocks away. Blue Highway Games has board games, cards games, and some collectible minis games. About half the store is family and educational games, as befits Queen Anne, but they also have a lovely selection of Euro games. The place is clean and well put together, and includes gaming tables so people can play right there. It’d be great if this store could thrive, so I made sure to buy something. I chose Paths of Glory by GMT, which I’ve been meaning to pick up for years. Now to find an opponent. Curse you, temptation!