Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What We Learn from History

A recent issue of The Week quoted Aldus Huxley who famously said, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

From my perspective, this is directly applicable to our current situation in Libya where the United States has once again dabbled in a foreign society we do not understand. It’s a wonderful goal to get rid of a vicious dictator. But, like Iraq and Afghanistan, we do not understand their culture. What comes after the dictator?

Libya is a tribal society where people owe their allegiance to family and clan and tribe more than to the nation. As soon as the dictator is overthrown they will begin fighting each other for supremacy. Which side will we be on in such a case? Unfortunately, our political leaders learned nothing from the mess we found ourselves in when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. So much for learning the lessons of history!

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