MY RECOMMENDATION: YES
AMAZON SUBSCRIPTION LINK: George Will, by George Will
WEB ADDRESS: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/03/24/LI2005032402294.html
BLOG DESCRIPTION: George F. Will is one of the most widely recognized, and widely read, writers in the world. With more than 450 newspapers and his biweekly Newsweek column, Will may be the most influential writer in America.
Will began his syndicated column with The Writers Group on January 1, 1974, just four months after The Writers Group was founded by Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham. Two years later, Will started his back-page Newsweek column. In 1977, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for his newspaper columns, and garnered awards for his Newsweek columns, including a finalist citation in the Essays and Criticism category of the 1979 National Magazine Awards competition. He was also the recipient of a 1978 National Headliners Award for his "consistently outstanding special features columns" appearing in Newsweek. A column on New York City's finances earned him a 1980 Silurian Award for Editorial Writing. In January 1985, The Washington Journalism Review named Will "Best Writer, Any Subject." He was named among the 25 most influential Washington journalists by the National Journal in 1997.
Today Will serves as a contributing analyst with ABC News and has been a regular member of ABC's "This Week" on Sunday mornings since 1981.
Eight collections of his Newsweek and newspaper columns have been published: "The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Sobering Thoughts" (Harper & Row, 1978); "The Pursuit of Virtue and Other Tory Notions" (Simon & Schuster, 1982); "The Morning After: American Successes and Excesses 1981-1986" (Macmillan, 1986); "Suddenly: The American Idea Abroad and at Home 1986-1990" (The Free Press, 1990); "The Leveling Wind: Politics, the Culture & Other News 1990-1994" (Viking, 1994); "The Woven Figure: Conservatism and America's Fabric, 1994-1997" (Scribner, 1997); "With a Happy Eye But ... America and the World 1997--2002," (The Free Press, 2002); and "One Man's America: The Pleasures and Provocations of Our Singular Nation," (Crown Forum, 2008).
Other books include: "Statecraft as Soulcraft" (Simon & Schuster, 1983), a work of political philosophy that originally appeared as the Godkin Lecture at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in 1981; "The New Season: A Spectator's Guide to the 1988 Election" (Simon & Schuster, 1987) which prefaced the 1988 presidential campaign; and "Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball" (Macmillan, 1989) which topped national best-seller lists in the number-one position for over two months. His book titled "Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy" (Macmillan, 1992) argued for the need to limit politicians' time in office.
MY REVIEW: George Will is on vacation until August 10, but that should be no reason to not subscribe to his blog, because you'll get 20 of his articles, which will keep you busy until he gets back, and its only 10 days away anyway, and your blog subscription is free for the first 14 days, so you'll have plenty of time to evaluate whether or not you want to continue to read him.
I say, he's a must read.
The high price of American hubris
By George F. Will
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The story mocks a cliche: As they were leaving the Garden of Eden, Adam said to Eve, "Darling, we live in an age of transition." The first sentence of Barack Obama's letter introducing his new strategic review says Americans have often coped with "moments of transition" such as today's "time of sweeping change." Such boilerplate makes one weep -- and yearn for serious, meaning unsentimental, assessments of America's foreign policy tradition.
One is at hand. Taken to heart, Peter Beinart's "The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris" might spare the nation some tears.
In the Greek myth, Icarus is given wings in the form of feathers affixed by wax to a wooden frame. He also is given a warning: Do not fly too high lest the sun melt the wax. In the ecstasy of soaring, he forgot, and fell to his death.
Beinart discerns three varieties of highflying foreign policy hubris in the past 100 years, beginning with Woodrow Wilson, who injected the progressives' faith in domestic policy expertise into foreign policy. He exemplified the hubris of reason, which supposedly could bring permanent, because "scientific," peace to Europe. The political science professor told his wife they should draft a constitution for their marriage, then "make bylaws at our leisure." As president, he created the Inquiry, a bevy of intellectuals using reason to revise the borders that history had given to Old World nations.
Colonel Edward House, Wilson's aide, said he and the president received the Inquiry's report on Jan. 2, 1918: "We actually got down to work at half past ten and finished remaking the map of the world, as we would have it, at half past twelve."
Wilson said, in effect, "Stop the world, America wants to get off." He actually said America would "in no circumstances consent to live in a world governed by intrigue and force." And so the next war came, on Sept. 1, 1939, when dignitaries were in Geneva, birthplace and cemetery of the League of Nations, unveiling a statue of Wilson.
The First World War -- a.k.a. the war to end all wars -- was followed by the Second World War, and then the Cold War and the hubris of toughness. America, which Beinart says needed "a wider menu of analogies," now saw every foreign policy challenge through the retrospective prism of Munich:
"In 1939, few American politicians believed that a Nazi takeover of Warsaw constituted a grave danger to the United States. By 1965, many believed we couldn't live with a North Vietnamese takeover of Saigon. In the 1980s, Americans lived peacefully, albeit anxiously, with thousands of Soviet nuclear warheads pointed our way. By 2003, many Washington commentators claimed that even Iraqi biological or chemical weapons put us in mortal peril."
The postwar belief that U.S. "credibility" was crucial, perishable and at stake in far-flung crises "meant," Beinart says, "that unimportant places were important after all," and turned the doctrine of containment into an uncontained, hence hubristic, impulse. As the restraining memory of Korea faded -- a memory that helped President Dwight Eisenhower conduct a prudent foreign policy -- the (in John Kennedy's inaugural formulation) "trumpet" calling on America to "pay any price, bear any burden" summoned the country to worry perhaps excessively about involvement in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, America's supremacy -- ideological, military and economic: the stock market doubled in value between 1992 and 1996 -- fed, Beinart says, a hubris of dominance. Using only air power, America compelled Serbia to remove its soldiers from part of Serbia -- the province of Kosovo. In Bosnia, America acted in response to ethnic cleansing. In Kosovo, Beinart argues, America acted to preempt ethnic cleansing: "Kosovo nudged open an intellectual door, a door George W. Bush would fling wide open four years later, when he cited 'preemption' to justify his invasion of Iraq."
Events eventually pop what Beinart calls "hubris bubbles." This may soon happen in Afghanistan, where Obama is in a tenuous, uneasy alliance with those Beinart calls "dominance conservatives."
Generational envy has, Beinart believes, propelled some Americans' searches for Hitlers to not appease. Boredom born of Cold War success caused them to find some. Hubris is a vice arising from ambition, which is, in moderation, a virtue. Hubris is a byproduct of success, of which America has had much. By producing folly, of which America has had too much, hubris is its own corrective. There is, however, a high tuition paid for such instruction.
--Puerto Rico calls to Republicans
--Through the Commonwealth, the GOP can reach out to Hispanics.
--Paying the price for hubris (By George F. Will, July 15, 2010)
--Putting the clamps on free speech (By George F. Will, July 11, 2010)
--Another round of Prohibition (By George F. Will, July 8, 2010)
--Nevada's undaunted 'nobody' (By George F. Will, July 4, 2010)
--Questions for Kagan (By George F. Will, June 28, 2010)
--Questions for the nominee (By George F. Will, June 27, 2010)
Ms. Cairo writes several blogs including:
Seaborn: Oceanography Blog
Star Trek Report: Space Sciences
Topical Murder and Dated Death
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