Commonplace
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Publick Occurrences 2.0

January 15, 2009

The friend of my enemy is not someone I want anything to do with

Filed under: Civil War Era,Foreign policy,Iraq War — Jeffrey L. Pasley @ 12:19 pm

This not a real proverb, but a political principle that it does not take much of an historian to see applies to the attitudes of pretty much every colonial people or small nation whose territory has been invaded since the dawn of modern nationalism, at least. Nobody likes getting their homes bombed, their cities overrun by foreign troops, their friends, neighbors, and relatives traumatized, maimed, or killed. People remember that stuff, and they tend not to look kindly on the politicians and officials who get installed or helped into power by the invaders, perhaps especially if the officials of the new regime are natives of the invaded territory.

Shall we recall a U.S. example? Let’s. In American schools, we used to learn a name for what the defeated Confederates called those who staffed the Reconstruction regimes: “scalawags,” “carpetbaggers,” and lots of worse things.  We were not taught to admire those fellows. As we know from Eric Foner and other post-”revisionist” historians of Reconstruction, many of these officials were not grafters and traitors, but honest reformers trying to help the people of the South and improve their society and economy. Nevertheless, despite these noble intentions, the new regimes required the federal government’s protection to be stable and inspired a rather famous terrorist insurgency called the Ku Klux Klan. Once outside support was withdrawn, the South was immediately “redeemed” by the same people who started the CIvil War in the first place.

Of course, the more relevant example for the present-day issues of this type would be the politics of every post-colonial nation one can think of except Canada, Australia, and New Zealand: the sure path to political popularity and power in such countries was virulent opposition to the continuing influence of the old colonial power, even if such opposition was likely to be counter-productive. There was this early American politician called Jefferson who ended up president in no small degreee because he was the leading opponent of a non-anti-British foreign policy.

So, given this sort of historical experience, why would any policy-maker expect massively destructive invasions by overwhelmingly superior forces in isolated, beaten-down places like Gaza and Iraq to result in the people of those places warmly accepting regimes that the invaders helped to install? Yet the failure of the Iraqi people to do just this is Dick Cheney’s only regret about the Iraq War — and not because he was wrong to expect it, but because of their supposedly damaged psyches.

Even more incredibly, the Israelis apparently thought that crushing Gaza was going to give their favored party, the secular Palestinian Authority, the chance to win power back from Hamas. From the New York Times:

(more…)

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It’s Jefferson! Run!

Filed under: Founders,Humor,Popular culture,Uncategorized — Benjamin Carp @ 8:00 am

My friend DHM has alerted us to the latest adventures of Dr. McNinja, a former student of the clone of Benjamin Franklin.  The tales are written and drawn by Chris Hastings and inked by Kent Archer (click on the picture below to see the host site).

I think Jefferson just sent little starbursts through the screen.  We’ll stay on top of this developing story….

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