Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Enough with the pessimism

Defeatism has descended upon the West. It’s all doom and gloom, with seemingly intractable economic crises and an opponent that threatens to outpace us. Calm down — we’ve been there before

In addition to helping us avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, history can also teach us that our pessimistic urges, when we believe that all is lost, have nothing original about them.

There was a time, soon after the euphoria that followed the end of World War II, when failure seemed certain and that the selflessness and sacrifices of the “greatest generation,” which had ensured victory of the “free world” against fascism, had been spent in vain. The early successes of the Soviet Union, starting with the detonation of its first nuclear bomb in August 1949 through the launch of the Sputnik satellite in October 1957, added to the “loss” of China in 1949 and ill-starred beginnings to the Korean War in 1950, came as body blows that threatened to fell what just a few years before had seemed like an implacable force.

Soon, mass pessimism was taking hold of Washington and allied capitals, leading otherwise intelligent officials to inflate the Soviet threat with the so-called “missile gap” that put the West’s very existence at risk. 


Sixty years later, the West finds itself in a similar situation. Just as it did back then, pessimism pervades in the wake of a sweeping ideological victory.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.


Mike Fagan said...

The West's refusal to confront the PRC is not the result of mere "pessimism", for pessimism is of itself no hindrance to action taken on principle.

Mike Fagan said...

Further remarks here.