Monday, October 11, 2004

Monday Post Madness: Issue 2

I have a page-a-day calendar, as I'm sure many of you do now or have in the past. My calendar is a "book-a-day" calendar that gives the synopsis of a book, along with title, author, year, and publisher. The calendar has provided a very diverse and interesting assortment of books in all genres, covering all aspects of the literary world.

In light of the current political season, I found it curious (and a bit confusing) to read this summary, my book-of-the-day last Friday:
"Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos" by Robert D.
(Random House, 2002)

Why was Neville Chamberlain willing to live with Hitler, and Bill Clinton ready to make nice with Communist China? Robert D. Kaplan blames it on a combination of Christian forbearance and liberal democratic principles that has made most Western leaders unwilling to recognize tyrants and despots for what they are. To replace the warm, fuzzy policies of today, he urges a return to the hard-nosed practices of Thucydides, Sun-Tzu, Machiavelli, and Hobbes. Kaplan argues that it is delusional to think we can get along with megalomaniacs, and insists that it is best to face them down now rather than later (by which time they are likely to have grown stronger).
[There's no author credited for this synopsis, so assume I'm crediting him or her here. --d.]

Wow. That's really interesting. I'm curious to know how Kaplan views the present administration's amalgam of Christian rhetoric and "pagan" diplomatic pragmatism. But more than that, I'm curious to hear what you think about this.

Based simply on this synopsis of what I think would be a fascinating book, do you agree that the actions of Chamberlain and Clinton (among others) are, as Kaplan is credited to imply, "a mix of Christian forbearance and liberal democratic principles"? Do you think that a pro-active, often ostenisbly "warlike" foreign policy is an abandonment of Christian principles in favor of a "pagan" kill-or-be-killed mentality? Does your position on the Iraq war (and the larger War on Terror) conflict in any way with your understanding of your religious beliefs?

Come on, guys, humor me and answer. This is something I've considered for a while. I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

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