Americans sometimes forget as quickly as they learn

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachRidgway had no great interest in real estate, T. R. Fehrenbach quips (in This Kind of War):

He did not strike for cities and towns, but to kill Chinese. The Eighth Army killed them, by the thousands, as its infantry drove them from the hills and as its air caught them fleeing in the valleys.

By April 1951, the Eighth Army had again proved Erwin Rommel’s assertion that American troops knew less but learned faster than any fighting men he had opposed. The Chinese seemed not to learn at all, as they repeated Chipyong-ni again and again.

Americans had learned, and learned well. The tragedy of American arms, however, is that having an imperfect sense of history Americans sometimes forget as quickly as they learn.


  1. Harry Jones says:

    There are things in the world that are constant. These should be learned and never forgotten.

    There are other in the world that are temporary. These should be forgotten as soon as they cease to be true, to allow for new knowledge of a changed world.

    Wisdom begins with knowing what doesn’t change and what does. Liberal stupidity is not knowing what doesn’t change. Conservative stupidity is not recognizing when things have changed.

    It’s not enough to believe in fundamentals. You have to identify correctly the fundamentals.

    I think forgetting evolved as a shortcut to unlearning obsolete knowledge. Conscious unlearning is hard and painful, but forgetting takes no effort. The unwanted side effect is you also forget things that are still true. But as long as you relearn those quickly enough, it may satisfice.

  2. Ezra says:

    Ridgeway was only senior USA officer with fame from WW2 who emerged from Korea with his reputation intact.

Leave a Reply