A Rose in a Fisted Glove

Post-Iraq and Afghanistan, with regime-change and support for Arab-spring events, the west and neighbouring governments made plenty of mistakes in the actions they actually chose to take and in how far they thought-through the immediate consequences and the longer-term stabilisation of Middle-East countries. Not to mention the running sore of the unfinished business in Israel-Palestine.

Which isn’t to say they / we were wrong to act, even to “go to war”, with good intentions for populations repressed by or at risk from dictators and ideologues. The complexity is always in the many parties with their own opportunistic agendas and scores to settle, and in the freely fragmented hearts and minds of our own populations that need to be brought along with any such actions and sustained attention to consequences. Even without traditional “imperial” aims, aspirations and the arrogance of knowing what’s best for johnny-foreigner, we all have many interests tied-up in these situations.

Crass with hindsight to be keeping score of numbers (*) of bombs and countries involved – human casualties and cultural damage to “civilisation” for sure – but let’s not falsely objectify what is far more complex and complicated. Crass too to simply blame and vilify our individual leaders, with hindsight or even with I told-you-so slings and arrows of contemporary stop-the-war protestation.

One reason we need institutions like UN, NATO and EU to give us follow-through on policy and initiatives beyond single-national government cycles. Sure these institutions ain’t perfect, even highly flawed, in need of improvement, refreshment and re-commitment to such improvement and their longer term aims as well as learning from evident mistakes. But a rose by any other name would be as thorny.

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[(*) Post Note – Taleb, already merciless against Pinker’s “Better Angels”, here picking-up how misleading it is to simply count the wrong things, the things that might be easy to count.

(Einstein “Not everything that counts can be counted.”)]


Also published on Medium.

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