Monday, November 17, 2008

Spare Thou Those

This was in response to a book review Paul posted a link to at his place: Byzigenous Buddhapalian. Bacevitch is Andrew J Bacevitch. The Limits of Power: the End of American Exceptionalism, which was recently published and is apparently getting some attention.

Bacevitch, as quoted in the link and on Rachel Maddow's show Friday, says nothing that is inconsistent with the conventional wisdom of the History of U S Foreign Relations over the past forty years.

The more interesting question to me is why anything Bacevitch is saying should be news to anyone who claims to be informed about the subject, whether scholar, pundit, or public official. The short answer is, of course, "sin", or, as he points out more specifically: the arrogance, greed, and self-righteousness which permeates, but is not limited to, all these groups.

A friend of mine joked during the '96 elections that the trouble with Republicans was they didn't really believe sin as an experiential fact. Another very astute friend, when I asked him what he was currently reading in the Summer of '06, replied *Immoral Man and Moral Society* I take some comfort in reading the President-Elect has been influenced by his reading of Reinhold Niebuhr. None of this should be taken to claim Niebuhr as an infallible guide; to do so would be oxymoronic, intrinisically contradictory to his point. He was, for example, far too ready to belittle or ignore the U S role in the formation of the Cold War.

He does, however, keep an important insight before us, which may be especially useful as we attempt to discover thirty years of Republican sin in detail and to do what we can to make amends; it is always too late to control the outcome, but it is always time to repent and make the effort.

"Spare Thou those who confess their faults." eh?

5 comments:

Crimson Rambler said...

hum, thought-provoking. Thank you!

FranIAm said...

Thought provoking was what I was going to say as well and now have done so!

And I do so love that Obama even has a "favorite philosopher" and that favorite is Niebuhr!

johnieb said...

Y'all are sweet: thanks.

I've been a Reinhold Niebuhr (and also an H. Richard Niebuhr) fan for several decades; I think one of the reasons for this lasting attraction is that he does not develop a comprehensive system, but leaves a number of loose ends to ponder and apply.

I think of him as the nation's preacher, who made newspaper columns, a magazine and political organizations which he helped found, and a prominent professorial position his pulpit for forty years.

Paul said...

And one marvels how any of this could come as a surprise to anyone. But then one must pay attention or wander in unknowingness - and I guess that applies all over the place.

Thanks for these comments.

Jane R said...

So, JohnieB, it's the day before Thanksgiving, and your fans want to know, what's on the menu for you?

(The word verification thingie says "tursenci.")