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Wednesday, Mar 26, 2003

judtment of history

"What is missing in recent American commentary is not so much an appreciation of history—there has been too much of that, with "Munich" invoked at every turn. What is lacking is a sense of the tragic. If the US has had such a long run of foreign policy successes in the modern age, it is in large measure because, as Dean Acheson once put it, "we were fortunate in our opponents." This may not last. We were also fortunate in our leaders. This has certainly not lasted. There is much confident talk of the coming American century; but one hundred years ago many thought it was Germany that held the keys to the new era—and they had good reasons for thinking it. As Raymond Aron once remarked, the twentieth century could have been the German century."