One of the many books I am reading right now (well, in this case, listening to the audio book while I drive) is Roger Crowley’s Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World (which originally came out in 2008). I’m about five chapters into the book, and I like it so far.
Towards the end of chapter five, there was a brief snippet that amused me to no end. In describing the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s colossal failure to take the city of Algiers in 1541, Crowley quotes a letter from the Emperor that uses a certain turn of phrase that caught my eye (emphasis mine):
Charles viewed the catastrophe with a remarkable levelness of spirit. “We must thank God for all,” he wrote to his brother Ferdinand, “and hope that after this disaster He will grant us of His great goodness, some great good fortune,” and he refused to accept the inevitable conclusion that he had sailed too late. As regards the sudden storm, he wrote that “nobody could have guessed that beforehand. It was essential not so much to rise early, as to rise at the right time, and God alone could judge what time that should be.”
“Nobody could have guessed that beforehand.” How interesting. George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and the whole Bush Administration used what we might label the Charles V Nobody Could Have Predicted Defense to defend themselves. I get it now.