IT is neither unkind nor grossly inaccurate to say that the average government official—and average pundit—has only a little understanding of the overall historical perspective and even less understanding of historic global geopolitics.
I will assume that you can relate a rather correct history of the Philippines and possibly the world since 1987. You might turn back the clock to 1972 not only for the Marcos declaration of Martial Law but maybe also for the Palestinian terrorists attacking the Israeli team at the 1972 Summer Olympics and President Nixon going to China.
Only about five percent of the current global population was even alive when World War 2 ended in 1945. There are about half a million people still alive today that were 16 years or older when the war started.
National and local governments honor those born in 1922 and before with birthday greetings. It may not be chismis, but any information prior to 1922 given to us today is second-hand to us either orally or transcribed.
But that is not an excuse for being ignorant, dangerously ignorant, especially if you are helping make the decisions for a nation.
Why is it important to know what happened in the past? Human free will and a new sunrise every morning should make us realize that we have choices. Even Mark Twain said that “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes” and we can “rhyme” history almost any way we want. Karl Marx’s political and economic philosophy was based on his theory of history, which has since been called Historical Materialism. And he said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
Russia invades Ukraine and everyone suddenly becomes a history expert, pointing out that the original “Russia” started as Kievan Rus’ in present-day Ukraine. Is Putin the ultimate “revisionist,” rewriting regional history to suit his agenda?
The Russian invasion is a hugely significant and substantial part of current geopolitics that, while part of the aftermath of the 2014 annexation of Crimea, was “unexpected.” The Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) Project at the College of William & Mary held a poll among international relations scholars the day before the 2014 Crimea annexation, which asked: “Will Russian military forces intervene in Ukraine?” The results were that only 14 percent of the 905 interviewed scholars said “Yes.” Apparently, they had never read this from an English geographer, academic and politician.
“The pivot region of the world’s politics is that vast area of Euro-Asia—Russia—which is inaccessible to ships, but in antiquity lay open to the horse-riding nomads, and today is covered with a network of railways. Outside the pivot area, in a great inner crescent, are Germany, Austria, Turkey, India, and China. And in an outer crescent are Britain, South Africa, Australia, the United States, Canada, and Japan. Who rules Eastern Europe commands that Heartland pivot area; Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island of Euro-Asia; Who rules the World-Island commands the world.”
That certainly makes sense and explains much about Putin’s actions. But no one should really be surprised since that statement is effectively what is happening today. Halford Mackinder wrote that analysis in a paper presented to Royal Geographic Society in 1904. Note that the expanse of the British Empire, controlling 25 percent of the world’s population, peaked in 1922.
Albert Einstein’s discoveries exploded our concepts of time and that the “speed” that it takes for time to “pass” is relative to the speed of an object like you and me is traveling. But until we can reverse ourselves on a timeline, time passes linearly from one event to another. Even with various and numerous cycles on the timeline, today is connected and a result of all the yesterdays.
If you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you are going. We are like blind tourists on a jungle safari being led by an ignorant guide who does not know the terrain or the path.
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