Sunday, April 20, 2008

Failing to learn

In an insightful NYRB essay, Tony Judt argues that Americans failed to learn the most important lesson of the 20th century -- namely, "how war brutalizes and degrades winners and losers alike and what happens to us when, having heedlessly waged war for no good reason, we are encouraged to inflate and demonize our enemies in order to justify that war's indefinite continuance."

This failure goes quite far in explaining our current predicament; perhaps more ominously, it suggests that until we come to grips with the lessons gone by we face an even more perilous future.