the ugly us

I read a fascinating article about the question of intentions today. A & L Daily pointed me to the article, which begins with a detailed description of the book The Ugly American, which contains within it the idea that it is very easy to assume that one's good intentions forgive one's errors. The setting is pre-Vietnam, but the article then brings that forward, to examine the way in which Iraq, by dint of being, in the end, 'successful', forgives the manner in which we got there.

When U.S. policy goes awry, therefore, the culprit might be bad luck, bad planning, or bad tactics, but American motives lie beyond reproach. Thus, the reassuring take on the Iraq War, now emerging as the conventional wisdom, is that - however mismanaged the war may have been early on - the "surge" engineered by General David Petraeus has redeemed the enterprise: a conclusion doubly welcome in that it obviates any need to revisit questions about the war’s purpose and justification, while meshing nicely with the Obama administration's inclination simply to have done with Iraq and move on.
It's interesting, because it is very easy to buy into the 'good intentions' argument, and very easy to suggest that any omelet requires the breaking of some eggs....
David Hibbard commented:

Good point, that.

It reminds me of the saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".



on Sun Aug 9 03:07:33 2009

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