The grand view of history has traditionally offered two paths for the interpretation of events. The first imagines social trends rising up from below to sweep humanity along in their irrepressible, all-powerful waves. The other dreams of iconic figures who shape history through their own vision and will. In the case of the United States during the War of 1812, we find neither. Instead, a third way emerges: history dominated by stupidity and impulse. From the revolution to the present moment, hardly a single generation of Americans has passed without giving rise to a bona fide military genius. The Civil War alone produced half a dozen. To Canada’s good fortune, the post-revolution US Army was stacked with bunglers and officers past their prime. It might have taken Canada easily, if not for the miraculously systemic idiocy among the top brass.
more from Stephen Marche at The Walrus here.