8.29.2005

Iraq is Courtrai!


Zenpundit had a post a few days ago about the fallacy of comparing Iraq to Vietnam. It is more of a post about the problems with analogies than a war-specific gripe but at the end of his post he asks for readers to come up with historical examples where a parallel can be drawn by people who are against the war. I still think the war was a mistake but I too get tired of historically incorrect analogies as well as the repetition of the left, of which I'm not one.

This is, of course, a tongue in cheek linking, but my contribution is The Battle of Courtrai, also known as the Battle of the Golden Spurs. It's not a perfect example by any means, but bear with me.

This battle took place when the French army rode into Flanders to put down a revolt. The "insurgents" were Flemish burghers, a burgher being a merchant class of freemen which was just beginning in Europe, and a few foreign archers hired as mercenaries.

The weapon of choice for the rag-tag Flemish army was a goedendag, a mid sized wooden staff with a big spike at the end capable of piercing the thickest armor. The knights of France were like all knights, shielded head to to in armor so thick that their survival was almost insured.

But the French knights rushed in without thinking and found themselves bogged down in swampy land. Once the enemy was bogged down the Flemish moved in for the attack. One by one they knocked the helpless knights out of the saddle and dispatched them with their barbaric goedendags.

There are many differences that must be noted such as the casualties. 700 pairs of golden spurs taken from dead Frenchmen that day were hung in the Church of Our Lady in Kortrijk to commemorate the victory, but our casualties are light In Iraq. And I don't dare to compare our troops with knights of any age. Knights were generally poor at fighting while our troops are well trained. But the knights were considered the best at the time.

The similarities are found in how you read the story: The French were a well armored and very mobile professional army but after becoming bogged down they became easy targets for barbaric attacks by a mix of irregular militia and foreign fighters that followed rules for warfare that were unconventional at the time.

Ta-da. Simple as that. Iraq is Courtrai!



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