In 1914 a terrorist act plunged the entire globe into a war, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Diplomacy failed and treaty obligations set two chain reactions in motion that could not or would not be stopped.

Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov was Czar of the Russian Empire. His military was beset with massive corruption in the supply services and incompetence in the field command, with the significant exception of Marshall Brusilov. Rather than shift blame, Czar Nicholas eventually took direct command of the military. The losses forced his abdication. He ultimately paid with his life and the lives of his family members.

Imagine paying for the failures of government with one’s life. It is extreme, to be sure. Today the Czar would probably get a book deal, a spot on a talk show, and invitations to all the right parties.

I’m not expecting any American politician from President on down to take responsibility for the spectacular failures we have endured in the past seventeen months. But avoiding even the mention of failure does nothing to mitigate the magnitude of our losses.

It is easier to fire a football coach than it is to sack an incompetent President. Oh well.