NATIONAL REVIEW -- While watching Donald Rumsfeld deal with the press pool, Victor David Hanson thought of the macabre aftermath to the battle of Arginusae in 406 B.C.
"After destroying a great part of the Peloponnesian fleet in the most dramatic Athenian naval victory of the war, the popular assembly abruptly voted to execute six of their eight successful generals (the other two wisely never came back to Athens) on charges that they had failed to rescue seamen who were clinging to the wreckage.
"The historian Xenophon records the feeding frenzy and shouting of the assembled throng. Forget that Sparta felt beaten and was ready for peace after such a catastrophic defeat; forget the brilliant seamanship and command of the Athenian triremes; forget that a ferocious storm had made retrieval of the dead and rescue of the missing sailors almost impossible; forget even that to try the generals collectively was contrary to Athenian law. Instead the people demanded perfection in addition to mere overwhelming success — and so in frustration devoured their own elected officials. The macabre incident was infamous in Greek history (the philosopher Socrates almost alone resisted the mob’s rule), a reminder how a society can go mad, turn on its benefactors, throw away a victory — and go on to lose the entire war.
"Something like that craziness often takes hold of our own elites and media in the midst of perhaps the most brilliantly executed plan in modern American military history. Rather than inquiring how an entire country was overrun in a little over three weeks at a cost of not more than a few hundred casualties, reporters instead wail at the televised scenes of a day of looting and lawlessness."
Victor David Hanson: "Our Western Mob"