Monday, July 03, 2006

Mongols by Louis Evan Palmer

The Face

Might wins battles & wars. It has no connection as to whether the aftermath is better than what preceded it.

By almost every measure, the Mongol invasions were a catastophe. All the subjected cities and nations went back in time and capability. One can look at a map at countries that even now are considered backwards and see the blood-soaked imprint of the hordes.

Russia, the former Soviet republics, China, Korea, the Middle East, the Near East - all devastated by the lethal, fast-moving horsemen from cold Far Eastern plateaus and mountains. Baghdad destroyed. Herat destroyed. Europe only saved by the timely deaths of Jinghis, the Great Khan and then later, his son Batu.

Perhaps it's unfair to castigate the Mongols for using what turned out to be an unstoppable military force. After all, what nations could restrain themselves from using such an advantage - irresistible power. Even today when we've supposedly progressed.

And the Mongols, while primitive in their cultural customs & aspirations, were very advanced in their military prowess. They had total mobility in the context of the world at that time - two of their small tough horses per soldier, powerful bows and arrows that could be delivered accurately from galloping horses, the latest in seige equipment and techniques appropriated from conquered armies. They could advance at a terrifyingly fast pace, if needed on a 24 hour basis - switching horses as required, sleeping & eating while astride.

It would be difficult to find a positive contribution made by the Mongols in any of their conquered territories. They took prodigously, in many cases for hundreds of years, but aside from the sterile peace of a cowed populace gave nothing back except death, fear and sorrow.

The Mongols were good at one thing - making war - and that pestilent excellence gave them dominion. And that starkly highlights our eternal vexing problem - how to prepare for war, to stop noxious Mongol-like invaders and their ilk, and yet, not to turn into pale imitations of that which we fear.

To be clear, the advocated study & preparation does not refer to specious contrivances like "al-Qaeda" and the nebulous "war on terror". This refers to the real thing from wherever it comes.

Even today, at this very minute, there are Mongols venerating the image & spirit of Jinghis.

Copyright Louis Evan Palmer
Mongols, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,


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