Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Clio's Revenge

The main intellectual defect in current American foreign policy is the lack of any sense of history, particularly as the British historian Lewis B. Namier defined it: a trained intuitive sense of the way things do not happen. (How they actually happen depends on the evidence.) America's leaders and their advisers, including some so-called historians and political scientists, not only are ignorant of history and insensitive to it, they despise and repudiate it. Their favorite epithet for opponents is to accuse them of having a pre-9/11 mentality, of believing that history before September 2001 still tells us something.
-Paul Schroeder, Liberating Ourselves

Of course this ignores the experts stuck in 1938, but the larger point stands. Our degraded knowledge of history, composing caricatures unworthy even of comic books, has crippled us.

No comments: