What will endure?

It's two centuries after the fact, and suddenly Napoleon is back on the battlefield. His example of military might that overreached and ultimately collapsed, is a weapon in the war of words to justify or condemn military actions today. Since his victories, and his eventual Waterloo, are seen as the hinge on which much of the 19th century swung, his example is also used to underscore what enduring impact might come from war now.

What endured after Napoleon, arguably, was not the unity of his vision but the wreckage from his arrogance. Wreckage that spilled into military, political, social, economic, even psychological realms. Some critics of the Bush administration see a Napoleonic flaw, in which the US and its allies generate a legacy of enduring bitterness and reduced stature that could unravel decades of carefully constructed international cooperation. Others saddle today's France with the same charge. Still others, of course, say that any residual wreckage rests with Saddam Hussein.

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