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Thursday, July 26, 2007


koros - hybris - ate

greek tragedy is surmised as a play in three acts embodied in three daemons -- koros, hybris, ate. the first is the period of coincident greed and good fortune on the part of the diligent protagonist; the second, the ego-driven overreaching of the protagonist who believes skill the greater part of his success when in fact it is luck; and finally, folly, disaster, disillusionment, destruction, repentance and denouement.

so it would seem that, at least for some neoconservatives, we have reached the conclusion.

I reflected on what things I believed at the onset of the war, that I no longer do as a result of the war. A short list:

1. Having been absolutely certain that the war was the right thing to have done, and that we would prevail easily, I am no longer confident that I can discern when emotion is affecting my judgment unduly.

2. I no longer implicitly trust governmental institutions, including the military -- neither in their honesty nor their competence.

3. I no longer believe the Republican Party is superior in foreign policy judgment to the Democrats.

4. I no longer have confidence in the ability of our military, or any military, to solve deep cultural and civilizational problems through force alone. I mean, I thought nothing could stand in the way of the strongest military fielded since the days of ancient Rome. No more.

5. I have a far greater appreciation for how rare and fragile liberal democracy is, and a corresponding revulsion at the American assumption that it's the natural state of mankind. Which is to say, the war has made me rethink my ideas about human nature, and I'm far more pessimistic now than I ever was.

is it often in the penultimate lines of a tragedy that the protagonist or his chorus reflects upon his fate and draws the most revealing and insightful conclusions.

it's deeply unfortunate, however, that their intellectual journey to humility has to come at this horrifying price. watch the video in the right sidebar. those soldiers will be coming home not as the loyal faithful but as quiet revolutionaries. at least, hopefully quiet.

please also read the corresponding discussion of two of the many literary masterworks yielded of the great war.

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