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The Hubris of Nation Builders
Guest Post by Lee A. Presser
My friend Bill Hennessy wrote an excellent 11-12-16 blog analysis of Anglo-American history and how it relates to Mr. Trump’s victory (https://hennessysview.com/2016/11/12/how-the-second-born-twin-can-be-older-than-the-first/). After reading that blog I phoned him to add a tangential thought. Bill suggested I share the thought with you.
It took 561 years (from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence) for the idea of limited government and political equality to infuse itself into Anglo-American culture. By 1776 enough people believed in the possibility, that they were willing to fight for it and organize a government based on it after a battlefield victory.
In 2003 George W. Bush sent American troops into Iraq to remove its leader, Saddam Hussein. At the start of the war, 72% of Americans interviewed in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll were in favor the war, while 25% were opposed. That support rapidly eroded when the public discovered that after Saddam Hussein was in custody, President Bush intended to keep troops in Iraq until that country was democratized and a representative form of government was inaugurated.
President Bush had a strong mandate from the American people to win a war and remove an evil leader. He did not have a mandate to sacrifice American lives to democratize Iraq.
Unlike the Anglo-American quest for limited government and political equality, the Iraqi people had been on no such journey. They never imaged limited government as a cultural goal nor were they going to organize a government based on it after a battlefield victory. Their culture, like most Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures, believed in strong leadership from the top down. Individuals owed allegiance to the head of the family, the various family leaders submitted politically and militarily to the strongest leader.
Had President Bush crushed Saddam Hussein, hung him and his immediate chain of command, warned the successor leaders of Iraqnot to attack American interests again, he would have ended the war there and then.
Apparently, President Bush thought the Iraqi people could immediately achieve what it took Anglo-American culture over 500 years to accomplish; for the idea of limited government and political equality to infuse itself into a culture. He insisted on providing the Iraqi people a form of government they did not seek and most knew little about.
Greek philosophers had a word for President Bush’s thinking process, hubris.