History Offers Basis for Predicting Future

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 14, 2004

Howdy y'all,
   On y'all's Web site is a letter ["Postmarks" online, Dec. 19] I sent to the Chronicle, and in it are events from history, which I used as the basis for a prediction. What did happen to Gen. George A. Custer and Adolf Hitler, I said, "Both men bit off more than they could chew." I was suggesting that our country's war policies put us in danger of repeating history.
   There was a "Page Two" editorial (Jan. 2) by Louis Black about using history to make predictions. The editorial said: "Over the years, we've received inane letters that begin with Plutarch's observation that 'history repeats itself' and proceed to take as law that the past offers a concrete guide to unfolding events."
   Thomas E. Ricks of the Washington Post wrote on Jan. 12 an article "Study Published by Army Criticizes War on Terror's Scope." The "scathing new report published by the Army War College" was written by professor Jeffrey Record.
   Mr. Ricks stated in his article that: "Record's core criticism is that the administration is biting off more that it can chew. He likens the scale of U.S. ambition in the war on terrorism to Adolf Hitler's overreach in World War II. 'A cardinal rule of strategy is to keep your enemies to a manageable number.'"
   I do not write "under the umbrella of academic freedom" like a professor of the Army's Strategic Studies Institute, nor am I a rocket scientist. However, I also predict that if our political leaders continue to use overwhelming force to bite the butts of other nations instead of chomping down on the real problems Americans face here at home. In the future, a new base on the moon might be the only safe place for an American to live.
   p.s. The moon might be a good place to go out to eat dinner – but I hear the place has absolutely no atmosphere!
Rick Hall
   [Editor replies: Let's see, Hall wrote "... events from history, which I used as the basis for a prediction." I wrote "... proceed to take as law that the past offers a concrete guide to unfolding events." Hall, whom I was not writing about, and I are in agreement, though not about his prediction that history offers a substantive basis for thinking about the future rather than a concrete guide.]
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