In looking into the career of my grandfather, a soldier in the British army during WWI, I am stunned and saddened by how little was learned from that conflict.
My grandpa, Cpl. Harry Woods, was an Iraq war veteran. At the outbreak of the WWI, Britain decided to seize the oil resources in what is now Iraq. At least they were honest about their intentions. At first, things went well. Flushed with confidence and success, the British army was sent further inland. They were not, however, provided with the weapons or transport they needed. They encountered a much more organized and well armed force than was expected and thousands of soldiers were killed or captured. My grandfather was badly injured by what we now call an IED.
The British eventually prevailed in Iraq and occupied it for nearly 16 years. As we now know, they failed to create a stable nation. Iraq descended into chaos as fighting broke out between the different factions. Here's a quote from British commanding officer Sir Henry Dobbs of the British army shortly after they withdrew. It is eerily prophetic.
"So now to reconstruct this Iraq we have squandered blood, treasure and high ability. We have bound debts and taxes on the necks of generations of our descendants. We have seemed by the abandonment of the Assyrians and Kurds to sacrifice our very honor. We have suffered the accusation that on the scene of their agony, we living have betrayed the hopes of our dead. You ask, for all this, shall we have our reward?
"I answer that I cannot say."