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View Diary: The Good Fight: Peter Beinart Responds (221 comments)

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  •  Threatening world (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sphealey, GayHillbilly, greenskeeper

    The world has always been threatening. And it always will be. The fate of all life is death. Life is the most deadly sexually transmitted disease.

    I don't believe that any human population above a few thousand can ever be fully at peace. We are tribal monkeys and we will always act like it.

    But our nature is not fate. We make laws and we have systems to "regulate the monkey." And, yes, we have war machines to regulate the international monkey. (One of my favorite lines in "The African Queen" is where Hepburn says to Bogart "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put on earth to rise above.")

    My big problem with US policy under Bush is that we have persuaded pretty much the whole world that we are the monkey that needs regulating.

    The PNAC crowd seems to believe that American economic and military supremacy is a sure thing, a permanent condition.

    It is most certainly not.

    The composer of the opera "Nixon in China" said something that stuck with me: "Shakespeare is the great American playwright." By this he meant that Shakespeare wrote at the time England was at its peak and was about to begin its long slow decline. That Shakespeare has, therefore, more to say to America today than to England, or indeed to any other country.

    Finally, let me just say that if the neo-cons want to have even a shred of a chance of seeing American power, America's "National greatness" realized they need to address two things:

    1. Energy. It would be so easy for the nations of the world to end America's power by disrupting energy supplies (let alone the probability that present energy systems either have or will soon peak). Right now it is only oil countries' addiction to our money that prevents this. But as emerging markets come to be as able as we are to pay for oil (China, India, etc.), it will become easier to do this.
    1. Moral leadership. We used to be a "beacon of light and freedom in the world." But now we are the nation of torture, secret prisons, and warrantless searches and surveillance.

    I have some hope because we've put ourselves in the crapper before, and we have got out. But "if this goes on" American power and preeminence is most certainly doomed in the long run.

    The British Empire and hell, the Roman Empire show our future path unless we change our ways.

    If you love empire, let it go is the lesson of history.

    But as I have said before, those who refuse to learn from history are in charge right now.

    •  Any group of people larger than three (0+ / 0-)

      cannot live in peace for a long period of time, not without effort.  Two inevitably turn against one.  It's human nature.  But, as Katherine Hepburn's character in "The African Queen" reminds us, "Our nature, Mr. Olney, is what we were put on this earth to rise above."

      We don't have to live down to the level of our primitive backbrains.

    •  Hmm. Shakespeare wrote. . . (0+ / 0-)

      . . . at a time when England was just rising as a power. The Spanish and Portuguese already had huge wealth, and "claim" to vast empires, and England had just started the build-up of naval power which would allow her to compete, and eventually best the other Europeans during the period of colonization. When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne, the treasury was dangerously low, the country sorely divided by religion and politics, and the only "overseas" territory really held by England was the Pale (Dublin and its hinterlands). Even by the time of her death, the only conquest they'd managed was of Ireland. This was the time of Shakespeare: as England was just setting out on the path of Empire.

      The time when England reached its apex and began its decline fell during the Victorian period, not the Elizabethan.

      {/history geek}

      When only the government lacks virtue, there remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is already lost.

      by Robespierrette on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:05:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman... (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, I agree. I was a history major as well. I didn't say it, John Adams said it (the composer, not the long dead President).

        I think I paraphrased him badly. He (Admas) was emphasizing that he (Shakespeare) wrote about a time of peak power, and that America at the time was also a peak power. That England subsequently declined, and that America would too. I didn't mean to create the impression that these were close in time (although I did). He was talking about how Shakespeare today could be said to be the "Great American Playwright" because of the relative conditions of America and England today.

        Thans for the reply. You are quite right (like you needed me to tell you!)

        •  Dammit! (0+ / 0-)

          Peter Sellars! Not John Adams.

          Peter Sellars. The composer, not the British comic actor.

          I did a lazy Google search because I didn't want to keep saying "the guy who wrote Nixon in China".

          The first link came up with the name John Adams because he wrote something about the Nixon in China opera. But the composer was Peter Sellars...


          •  Double dammit! (0+ / 0-)

            Okay, John Adams did compose Nxon in China. Peter Sellars had the idea and was the director.

            Grrr... Grrr...

            I really should read fully before I type.

            But it was Peter Sellars who said the thing about Shakespeare. It was in a Bill Moyers interview years ago.

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