The modern Sherlock Holmes, with an iPhone and a laptop. His friend Dr. Watson was
wounded in Afghanistan, where the British are fighting today, and the same place the orig-
nal Dr. Watson was fighting when he was wounded, about a hundred and thirty years ago.
In the first episode of the show Sherlock, the modern rendition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes, which portrays Sherlock in the 21st century
with an iPhone and a laptop, and written by the same writer as Dr. Who, the first words Sherlock Holmes
utters to Dr. Watson when he enters the room upon their meeting are
“Afghanistan, or Iraq?” Dr. Watson was an army medic, and with the British army
in Afghanistan, where he was wounded.
The original story was of course set in 1881, and although
Moffat did change the story a great deal, he did not have to change this. The
original Dr. Watson was also wounded In Afghanistan, also with the British army,
also fighting armed, angry, radial insurgents.
It illustrates the trouble, in a roundabout Sherlock Holmes
sort of way. The never ending war. To pinpoint where it began would require
deductive skills beyond mine. We could say the war between Western Armies and
Eastern Nutcases began about two hundred years ago, give or take, when Britain
decided, along with a few other European Nations, to colonize the world. (Yes the West was not always right, and the East not always wrong.)
But then we would be forced to remember the Crusades, which
began about a thousand years ago, and lasted for hundreds of years, with men
who considered themselves Christians bringing their version of justice and
knightly pastimes to the skulls of any Arab who happen to get in their way on
their march to the Holy Land.
Battle of Tours, 732. The guy who drew this probably wasn't there, though.
But of course, the long war of West v. East did not begin
then. There was the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, when hordes of turbaned warriors
tried to invade France, and were stopped by squares of Frenchmen wielding axes
in what must have been an exciting day. That one, by the way, happened on Western Soil, a rare phenomenon in this long fight.
Of course, in the news, now, is not only the fat that we are
fighting in the Middle East, one again, but also the stories of ISIS brutality.
But the brutality is also not new. When the Arab hordes first began their
sweep, the stories were sometimes so terrible as to not bear repeating.
So when quick fixes are offered to this problem, this
“Eastern Question” we must remember that there are no easy answers to men who
don’t ask questions, but kill indiscriminately because their brains are more
twisted than the Mississippi River. ISIS won’t be defeated by a jobs problem or
by enrolling them all on healthcare. (Imagine the premiums for a suicide
The weapons have changed, the fighting, and where we do it, still has not.
And it should also be remembered that the Middle East is a
bit like the old troll motto from those weird children’s books we used to read when
the troll would camp out in someone else’s house. “Once in never out.” We, the West, and been pouring money and arms and lives into
the black hole for centuries, and we have nothing but debt, and tears, and
tombstones to show for it. At some point, we will pull out of this one too. In
four, eight, twelve or twenty years, we will leave.
And when we do, let’s try to follow the last part of that
troll motto. “Once in never out” but “once out, never back.”