Modern age simple-mindedness

You can see it in ‘debates’ and in ideology. It shows in the assertions made about motivation and war. It leads to severe dissonance because often the real world does not fit in with it. Professor Hanson describes a case in explaining Why Putin grabs what isn’t his and how “History’s aggressors [are] motivated by fear and wounded pride.”

In the modern age, especially since Karl Marx, we rationalize the causes of wars as understandable fights over real things, like access to ports, oil fields, good farmland and the like. Yet in the last 2,500 years of Western history, nations have just as often invaded and attacked each other for intangibles. The historian Thucydides wrote that the classical Athenians had won and kept their empire mostly out of “fear, honor and self-interest.”

It is these intangibles which drive the left and also create their antipathy towards concepts such as duty, loyalty, honor, and patriotism. It is the simple-mindedness that leads to strange rationalizations of international relationships and behaviors.

The Obama administration has tried to psychoanalyze Mr. Putin as lashing out because of weakness. Or he is supposedly an unruly kid cutting up at the back of the classroom. Or he is acting out a tough-guy “shtick,” as President Obama put it.

Maybe. It would be wiser, though, to review the historical causes of war, especially why conflicts break out. Aggressors often attack their weaker neighbors to restore a sense of pride. They calibrate self-interest not so much in getting more stuff as winning greater honor, feeling safer and instilling more fear.

Just as importantly, history’s aggressors embraced their fears and sense of honor because they thought they could get away with doing so scot-free — given the perceived loss of deterrence.

It is the same phenomena behind Reid’s obsession with the Koch brothers and the simplistic ignoring of reality behind energy issues. There are a lot of words available, words like pride and hubris, for instance, but these seem to have no meaning for one side in today’s political divide. 

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