Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Waterloo Two?

I am an amateur student of the lessons to be learn from conflicts. The attempt to impose ones will upon another.

Big or little.
Strategy and tactics.

I think we would all benefit if we would take to heart some of the most basic facts so painfully learned and relearned.

Here in America we have a special thing. The way we have established this Union, established on the notion that people aught to be free.

We have States, the laboratories of Democracy. We resolve our differences peacefully, by the vote.

We vote to elect our representatives, our representatives vote to enact laws.

All at the consent of the governed.

We have had armed conflict. The Civil War, the War between the States, the War for Succession; what ever you call it, this long, grizzly, tragic and destructive rending of the American fabric was about Freedom.

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy." Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President.

He also said: "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. "

We should be very thankful for those who kept the union whole, and that we will never see that horror again.

The ballot, not the bullet, is the American way.

Today in congress we have a great debate raging, but nothing like in 1860.

Our President has demonstrated strong support for a bill passed by the Senate, but not passed yet by the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives, like the Senate, is lead by the party of the President, but has not passed the bill.

They say they are ready for a vote and it will pass very soon. They have been saying this for about four months now.

The conflict resides in the fact that a very large portion of American Citizens have demonstrated, and continue to do so, their dislike for the Bill in question.

The 44th President has a lot at stake, this is a major issue he was elected on two years ago and he continues to strongly push the issue.

He has a Congress of the same party, yet the approaching November elections are on the minds of all members of the House and a third of the Senate.

They have heard from, and continue to hear from, many of their constituents strongly opposed to the bill.

Many people have said that if the President does not achieve his goal that it would be his "Waterloo".

What does this mean? What do they mean?
Here is some of what I think is meant here.

First the back background.
Across the ocean in the old country....

France was undergoing great turmoil in an attempt to move past the Monarchy of ages past.

In 1795, nearing the end of terrible social upheaval, royalists from Paris declared open revolt on the new National Convention assembling in the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

The Royalists were not listed in the directory. They were being shut out against their will.

They were well connected to the Monarch and were loosing power and position. They prepared to attack.

Someone knew that the trained and proven, yet delisted artillery commander; Napoleon Bonaparte was within reach to prepare a defense of the embryonic new government.

He assembled and defended the palace, the royalists were denied there will, for a while anyway.

Napoleon was a sudden national hero and star. He was almost immediately assigned the title "Commander of the Interior" and given control of the Army of Italy by the grateful newly created, Directory of France.

Two years later, in mid-1797, the Royalists won a lot of elections and there was concern about them going back to the old ways.

Napoleon had been leading the Army of Italy on a very successful and popular campaign through northern Italy and up to Austria.

Although he was even more popular and politically powerful, the Royalists beat him up in the press for being too harsh with the Austrians and letting his army loot Italy. (Both true from what I can tell.)

In August 1799 he was in Egypt and not doing well, with the desert on one face and the English navy on the other.

He picked up and left Egypt, leaving a whole bedraggled army behind him, and went back to Paris, just as the Directory was weak and broke, and the military had several setbacks on the continent. Unknown to him the Directory had called for him to return.

The people loved him, but not the Directory.
One of the Directors concerned about the Royalists return to power, suggested to Napoleon, a coup to overthrow the French Constitution of 1795.

He agreed, his brother was also involved in these plans.

In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte took control of that Coup D'etat by craft and guile.

The old Directory was replaced with the French Consulate and Napoleon Bonaparte was installed as First Council of France.

France and her military accepted him totally, hopeful for stability after several military failures and civil unrest at home. They would gladly accept some loss of liberties for security.

He had Parliamentary and Military control of all France. For fifteen years he directed the path of France.

He had those who helped him to power that would not accept his total control of the republic deported to French Guiana.

He centralized power into the Senate.

After yet another botched conspiracy against him, Napoleon Bonaparte was extremely popular with the French people. He took advantage of this, and on 18 May 1804 he had the Senate bestow upon him the title of Emperor. A public referendum, that oddly enough passed the title on to his heirs just like any other monarchy, passed on the same day.

The French Consulate was abolished and the period of the Napoleonic Empire had arrived.

Through the Napoleonic wars 1803-1805, he and his Napoleonic Empire had "Satellite States"; ruled by relatives, enforcing his "codes", from Spain to Norway, from Germany to the Turkish border. Plus his Navy threatened many of the British interests.

The Empire of the French, the 1st French Empire or the Napoleonic Empire lasted from 1804 to 1814.

However, by the winter of 1812 he had reached too far. He was in burned out and abandoned Moscow with a frozen and starving army when he was called back to Paris, his power was greatly in peril.

Politically, and more importantly, militarily weakened; a new alliance formed up with Prussia, Great Britain, Russia, Spain, Portugal and Sweden against Napoleon.

They surrounded him as he, and his control, retreated. British from the south and the Germans from the north. He won some early victories, but was way out numbered. He came to a point were he felt compelled to order a march on Paris.

But this was too much to ask of the loyal French army, the generals quietly mutinied. To stop the allies, they convinced him to abdicate. He did - to his son, however that didn't sit well with the allies.

In 1814 the Allies made him sign total abdication for him and his heirs, and then he was removed from the continent to exile on the little island off Italy called Elba.

Thus ended the Napoleonic Empire. Or did it?

On Elba, off Tuscany, he was given total control, a guard of 600 men, and retained the title of Emperor.

And the British continually kept ships patrolling round the little island.

The Austrians had his wife, and he was not getting his allowance. And there was talk that he was going to be moved to a very remote island in the Atlantic.

Napoleon Bonaparte got a small boat and escaped Elba with a small guard.

He landed on the French mainland two days after he left his island prison. It was 28 February, 1815. He had been on Elba for 300 days.

The 5th regiment was sent to capture him.

They met; Napoleon dismounted, approached and said; "Here I am, kill you're Emperor if you wish."

Now you understand that the Army, under Napoleon Bonaparte, had been through many, many successful, glorious and lucrative ventures; while now they were broke, hungry and discontent.

They responded "Vive L'Empereur", and joined him in his march to Paris, the Capitol of France.

When this was learned, he was declared an outlaw and armies were immediately assembled throughout Europe to end his assent to power.

Napoleon arrived in Paris, now with a huge following, on March 20th.

Thus began Napoleons famous Hundred Days. The Emperor was back in power.

He had over 200,000 soldiers and chose to go on the offensive, to attack individually, the mobilizing allies before they could coalesce into a single large, and unbeatable, force.

He would drive a wedge between the Prussian army and the British Army. The French Army of the North advanced into present day Belgium.

On Sunday 18 June 1815 the Imperial Army met an Anglo-allied army lead by the Duke of Wellington and also a Prussian army lead by Gebhard Von Blucher near a small town called Waterloo.

A lot has been said about the battle of Waterloo, how it was managed.

Had Napoleon defeated the Duke of Wellington before Blucher arrived, he could have met and defeated him as well, as planned.

The history of the world would have been very different, had he.

The fact is the Duke absorbed his attacks long enough for his allies, the Prussians, to arrive and roll through Napoleons right flank.

Napoleon Bonaparte; Emperor of France, King of Italy, Protectorate of the Confederation of the Rhine, political and military genius, and scourge to many was finally, completely and undeniable stopped.

He made it to an Atlantic seaport and considered escape to America, but eventually demanded political asylum from the British.

Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the small remote island of Saint Helena, over a thousand miles off Africa in the southern Atlantic.

There was no doubt that his rule was over.

Because of Waterloo.

Today the struggle is between the President and his Party Generals; against the opposing party, with support from a large and growing number of citizens strongly opposed to the bill.

To some citizens, our elected servants appear to be slipping from Representatives to legislators, to lawmakers, to rulers.

Alone, the party of opposition to the Party of the President does not have the votes to stop the bill.

The will of the President, with the Speaker of the House and Majority leader of the Senate; opposed to the will of well over half of the People of the United States of America.

This week there is a strong offensive push for a resolution to the problem being experienced by the bill in the house. He appears to be attempting to drive a wedge between the elected representatives and the voting populous.

Like Napoleon, the President wants to win the House fight before the flank is rolled up by the crowing crowds of discontent citizens marching onto the battle field like Blucher and the Prussian army.

The coming November elections are causing many a sleepless night in Congress.

The Battle of Waterloo was undecided up until the very end. It could have gone either way. The Duke of Wellington called it "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life".

And our present conflict of wills appears to be a near-run too.

The President and his friends have invested about all the political weapons in their arsenal. They, like Napoleon, are down to the most loyal guard.

If they succeed, the bill will pass and the President will sign it into law. It will immediately be challenged in court.

But his will would be forced on those greatly opposed to it. And though he may lose his allies in November, like Napoleon did after the coup that began his climb to power, he will continue forwarding his "codes" for all to follow.

But if he fails, he could become executive of a greatly weakened presidency. He, and his agenda to reshape America, may end up in virtual exile in the rose garden of the White House, while the Congress and States go about the business of governing.

The Battle of Waterloo was not so much lost by Napoleon, it was won by the strong will of the Allies of the Seventh Coalition.

Not just the next Congressional election will be effected by the outcome of this modern day political "Battle of Waterloo".

The outcome of this very important battle being waged today will have long lasting effects on the United States of America for generations to come.

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