Samuel Johnson who wrote the first English dictionary (1755) was, as one might suspect, a lover of knowledge. “All knowledge is of itself of some value. There is nothing so minute or inconsiderable that I would not rather know it than not. A man would not submit to learn to hem a ruffle, of his wife, or his wife’s maid; but if a mere wish could attain it, he would rather wish to be able to hem a ruffle.” (1) For those of us who are not seamstresses, a ruffle is a strip of coarsely pleated fabric. Today’s Washington policy-makers know as much about foreign policy as they do about hemming a ruffle, that is to say, very little.
Having a lot of information and being intelligent is not enough to make wise decisions regarding foreign policy. One essential prerequisite to getting along successfully with one’s neighbors would be a grasp of reality. One acid test applied over time to measure the efficacy of our foreign policy would be: do America’s policies vis-à-vis our global neighbors help or harm our nation.
For example, how have we dealt with our erstwhile enemy Iran of late? “Trump’s aggressive and often bullying tactics, which have won him few friends and caused a steep drop in international regard for the United States. And the tough tactics have yet to prove successful almost anywhere, with threats growing in North Korea, Afghanistan and elsewhere.” (2)
Click on the link below to find out the names of the two brothers who, almost a century ago, authored America’s foreign policy fiasco.
Insight # 64: Overemphasis on the competitive system and premature generalization on the grounds of immediate usefulness kill the spirit on which all cultural life depends, specialized knowledge included. — Albert Einstein
- The Mirrors of History in this blog and also in the print version of The Human Community (2016), by Roy Charles Henry, pages 85-90.
- Bishop, Morris. “Essay: What Is Important?” American Heritage. December 1967, page 3.
- Harris, Gardiner. “Trump Has Only Sticks, No Carrots.” The New York Times. November 11, 2018, page 7.