Being myself a master of that genre—it’s a way of venting mental gas—I bow my head when I see someone who out-does me. In his column today in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman attributes this gem to one Daniel Brumberg at Georgetown University. Friedman paraphrases Brumberg thus: “the Arab awakenings happened because the Arab peoples stopped fearing their leaders—but they stalled because the Arab peoples have not stopped fearing each other.”
The white man’s burden sometimes weighs so heavily on learned shoulders that groans like that issue forth—and are then gratefully echoed by pundits looking for the sound-byte. It’s all about fear, don’t you know—and if you didn’t, now you do. Too bad Brumberg-Friedman don’t hasten to globalize this wisdom and assign it to the very birth of democracy wherever. The tyrant’s grown feebler, so let us arm against the neighbor.
I prefer the even simpler simplification of “original sin.” It is also a heavy load but has a few holes in it through which the light occasionally penetrates.