Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I thought Teddy Roosevelt said this or words to this effect: “As long as Americans believe all the people in the world are just like them, they are doomed to fail in foreign relations.” I can’t find that quote attributed to him or to anyone else so I will take it as my own until challenged.

President Bush has said, “All men yearn for freedom,” or words to that effect.

He couldn’t be more wrong and that points up the problem. Americans are such narcissists as a people, they want to remake all the governments in the world in their own image. They believe that, since the people are just like them, all they need is a government like theirs and all the problems will be solved in an instant.

What they forget is, it took The United States nearly 250 years to make it what it is today. And it inherited several thousand years of Greek, Roman and British contributions to civilization. Much of the world has never come in contact with any of that.

Perhaps this observation will help explain one different culture:

Some years ago I was invited to lunch by a Kurdish Khan in northwest Iran. His castle-like residence, mostly built of stone, was atop a steep hill in the center of one of his villages. He could brag that all the land in view was his. That was true except for the mountains of Iraq on the horizon. I didn’t point that out.

The Khan was very rich. The people who lived in his villages were very poor. They were modern serfs. They all worked for the Khan and owned very little. Were they unhappy? Hell no! They loved and respected the Khan and would die for him. They had a place to sleep. They had food to eat. They got laid. For all of that they thanked the Khan. What more could a man ask?

Freedom? They wouldn’t have known what the hell you were talking about. They had everything they wanted. The most important thing to them was they belonged. They belonged to their family, their tribe and their people. They had a place in life and they belonged in that place.

They didn’t have electricity but maybe someday it would come. That would be good.

(Author’s note: This is part one of a series. I try to keep each of these entries between 300 and 600 words so as not to wear anyone out.)


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