mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
WRM on America's "Optimistic Script" in the WSJ

In case you missed it, we’d like to point you to Walter Russell Mead’s article in the weekend WSJ. He reminds us that Americans are far too optimistic about global problems because we’ve been uncommonly lucky during our short history: Our revolution and founding were unusually easy, we didn’t suffer as badly as our allies did during the two world wars, and our great enemy, the Soviet Union, rose and fell without igniting a third.

He observes that both Obama and George W. Bush suffered from “an extraordinary and even lyrical optimism about where the Middle East was headed.” But there’s little reason for optimism now:

Today we see a very different world. We are being forced to remember something we’d rather forget: that history is hard, that the choices it forces on us are sometimes harsh and that not everything ends in win-win.

Read the whole thing.

Features Icon
show comments
  • lukelea

    Then I guess you could say that part of European Jewry was optimistic when it moved to that part of the world too? Except in their case it wasn’t because things had come to easily, was it?

    When it come to the Arab world and the Islamic world generally I think the real explanation was (and remains to a certain extent) naiveté, at least for us Americans. We didn’t understand the genetic basis of clan and tribal based societies because we had no experience of them within ourselves. Kin selection or inclusive fitness are the technical terms, which you can read about on Wikipedia. Or you can go to this layman’s introduction:

    The behaviors we are witnessing among these population groups in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, etc., are literally written in their genes. With a little more out-breeding they might begin to disappear. But that takes generations.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Does WRM no longer believe in America’s “Special Providence”? I’m far more optimistic, I see the TEA Party as American renewal with Big Government crushed and Liberties returned, I see a strategy of “Divide and Conquer” in place in the Islamic world, I see an opportunity for a new powerful economic and military alliance in Asia from India to Japan and from Vietnam to Australia.

  • Boritz

    This ties in neatly with the time-for-the-blue-model-to-go-away philosophy.

  • rheddles

    We didn’t suffer much as long as you begin our history in 1776, but King Philip’s war was a pretty brutal event and provided part of the motivation for securing the continental US. And don’t forget the Civil War that left half the country devastated for a century. Our luck will hold out because, as Churchill said, you can trust the Americans to do the right thing. After they’ve tried everything else.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service