VDH and the complex reality.

Victor Davis Hanson has two on the dissonance between the reality of the world and the desires of the ideologue. In Global Schizophrenia he describes the reality.

It may be hard for the world’s new impatient generation to accept the truth: There are no simple black-and-white solutions at little cost in today’s technologically connected but politically fragmented world. Restless Americans and a demanding global public are going to have to accept that in Afghanistan, Darfur, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Somalia and the West Bank, the United States itself — not just the bogeyman George Bush — has only bad and far worse choices.

And in Whose Fiasco? (A review of Thomas E. Ricks’ Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq) he takes off on the behavior of the ideologue gone round the bend.

That wild swing of the pendulum is usually what happens when the wisdom of military operations is adjudicated by perceptions of ongoing success or failure.

We should remember that cynical fact. We are still in the middle of the shooting in Iraq, and the final definitive assessment will reflect not only Ricks’s present perceived pessimism over the wartime ebb of the battlefield, but also the final verdict to come when we really do know who won and lost.

But there is a second disturbing phenomenon of the current genre of the Iraqi exposé besides the problem of writing “history” in medio bello: Ricks’s frustrating use of unnamed or anonymous sources.

It is well past time to call our present authors to account for this unsound practice, made all the worse by a veneer of endnotes that give us no information about unidentified informants. History is not the impressionistic art of autobiography, memoir, or essay, but is to be offered as an account of what happened with sources that provide the means of checking the historian’s veracity. Once journalists decide that they are no longer writing dispatches of the moment but real histories in the midst of a controversial and hotly debated war — and are intending to hype their work as a best-selling exposé — then they become historians and so are obligated to inform the reader, and posterity itself, where and from whom they obtained their primary evidence.

when a journalist asserts, often without documentation, that everything went wrong, then the reader is unable to discern even what may well be true.

These are the false arguments of the excluded middle and the anonymous authority to create a reality before it occurs. The damage is that we often become what we believe; we achieve what we envision. If we believe we are failures we tend to become failures; if we cannot envision a better world we will not achieve one.

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