Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Arthur Chrenkoff has some thoughts on George W. Bush's foreign policy. He recognizes the Serenity Prayer as the basis for the strategic decisions about what challenges to confront, and which realities to accept. As Chrenkoff describes it:
In fact, Bush is a realistic idealist, or idealistic realist, and his foreign policy faithfully translates into cold hard realities of international politics a simple prayer attributed to the theologian Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr. I'm sure you know it - framed, it adorns many a kitchen wall from Poland to Portland, or dangles from many key-chains around the world:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
The Serenity Prayer. That's it. Cynics may dismiss the notion of such a simple concept driving major decisions with national security implications, but is it really so fantastic an idea?
Millions of Americans who have changed their lives in dramatic ways rely on this simple prayer to help them navigate between the struggles which they can overcome, and those forces and realities on the ground that are unbending to human will, or at least out of the individual's power. And so they learn sanity and readjust thinking that had run down a squirrel hole.
Had not our strategic thinking in Foreign Policy suffered from an addiction to a kind of appeasement of status quo power balances, resulting from the unique challenges that two nuclear Superpowers presented? Weren't we far too comfortable enabling the very sovereign dysfunctions, in remediation of which all our diplomatic efforts were focused?
Otto Von Bismarck (who I doubt was big on serenity) defined Politics as the art of the possible. Haven't the most successful politicians (and leaders) in history been those who pushed the boundaries of what was considered possible, their achievements would not have been considered possible, until they in fact achieved them.
Again, Chrenkoff on its implication:
This is it, in essence: there's plenty we would want to do - every autocrat in the world deserves to be deposed and his people given freedom and democracy - but for various reasons we cannot make it happen everywhere at the same time, so for the moment we'll only pick those fights we can win.And the courage to reach for the possible that no one else can accept.
Iraq took courage. North Korea and many other places require serenity. Fortunately, W has got the wisdom.
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