They often preside, wisely and temperately, over their liquidation

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Pragmatists create no new ways of life, T. R. Fehrenbach reminds us (in This Kind of War):

[T]hey found no new religions, nor do they become martyrs to them. They believe in balance, compromise, adjustment. They distrust enthusiasms; they trust what works.

They make good politician, excellent bankers, superb diplomats.

They never build empires, either of the earth or of the spirit.

They often preside, wisely and temperately, over their liquidation.

Pragmatists did not land at Plymouth Rock, nor did they “pledge their lives, property, and sacred honor,” at Philadelphia.

Containment, forged in the forties and carried through the fifties and into the sixties, was a pragmatic policy. It was necessary, for there is a time for defense, even as there is a season for all things. But it was sterile; it could afford only time, and time, of itself, solves some problems, but not many.


  1. Altitude Zero says:

    Twenty years ago, I would have said that containment worked, and it sort of did, insofar as the US did not fall to Soviet power, and WWIII was averted. It’s only in the last few decades that the full, terrible impact of those long years of twilight war had on the institutions of our country. The Cold War was a victory, but it was a victory in the sense that the Somme was a victory for Britain – the price may turn out to be mortal.

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