Sunday, June 15, 2014

For the U.S., a Disappointing World

The chaos in Iraq is just the latest evidence that history doesn't follow America's optimistic script

By Walter Russell Mead, WSJ
June 13, 2014 8:12 p.m. ET

It has not been a good year for the liberal world order. Not since the end of the Cold War have so many crises erupted in so many places: Russia's invasion of Ukraine, China's relentless push in the East and South China seas, and the surge in jihadist violence and terror from Boko Haram in Nigeria to the religious war that now engulfs Syria and Iraq. This is not what Americans thought the world would look like in the third decade since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

As we struggle to understand why the post-Cold War world has been such an unpleasant place, it is tempting to turn foreign policy into a political football. There are plenty of Democrats who think that everything would have been fine if President George W. Bush hadn't blundered into the Iraq war. There is also no shortage of Republicans who think that everything would have worked out fine if only Barack Obama hadn't made it to the White House.

While it is true that both presidents got some important things wrong, it is what unites them rather than what divides them that is the root cause of our troubles. Both Messrs. Bush and Obama, like many of their fellow citizens, radically underestimate the dangers and difficulties in the path of historical progress.

Americans tend to believe that history is easy and that things usually work out for the best. When the French Revolution began, many Americans followed Thomas Jefferson's lead in thinking that the overthrow of Louis XVI would lead rapidly to democracy in Europe. Before World War I, most Americans believed that another great European war was unthinkable; when that war ended, President Woodrow Wilson was sure that a global democratic peace was on the way.

(More here.)

1 Comments:

Blogger Tom Koch said...

I wonder what happened to ..."I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth."

1:50 PM  

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