Monday, October 26, 2009

Regarding Arrogance, Stoicism and Global Politics

One wishes the stoic dictum that we should be indifferent to that which is beyond our control was more commonly applied in all things.  It would not only make us more tranquil, in that such things would not control, excite or disturb us, but would be a healthy check on the tendency we humans have to attempt to regulate the lives of others.

The Bushian dream of bringing Western (or perhaps more properly American) style representative government to Iraq, the Middle East and beyond is, quite literally, blowing up.  That dream is apparently inspired by the view that such government is to be valued and indeed preferred, in all cases.  An argument can be made in support of that proposition.  But, the belief that such a government may be imposed, or that it will thrive in all places and in all cases, is not well founded.

There is a certain arrogance in maintaining we know what is best for the world.  But it is more than arrogance to believe that we can impose what we think is best.  When we believe that, and act accordingly, we're being stupid and wasteful.  Even worse, we do harm to ourselves and others.

We cannot, of course, be indifferent to what threatens us, even when it appears to be beyond our control.  Then, we're justified in seeing if it can be brought into our control, even if to a limited extent.  But, we must be reasonable in determining what we can and can't do.  Nation-building is a dangerous, complicated and hugely expensive enterprise and should not be undertaken (especially by a debtor nation with its own problems) unless there is a probability of success.  What reason is there to believe there is even a chance of success, at this time?

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