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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

plus ça change...

I ran across the following recently in a discussion of political policy in one corner of the internet:

” … to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man …”

Was this a trenchant summary of America's recent foreign policy? Nope.
A retrospective indictment of American involvement in Viet Nam? No.
A historical condemnation of the conditions in Europe which led to World War I? Still, no.
A denunciation of Victorian hubris or Napoleonic vainglory? Again, no.

It could easily have stood in for these and much else of relatively recent vintage, but the fact is it is a quotation from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, a fourth century BC account of a late fifth century war.

plus ça change...
...plus la même.

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