10 December 2006

Three Cheers for John Bolton's Exit


One of the biggest illusions any individual can have is that he can just focus on building a good life while ignoring the community he’s a part of.

If the community deteriorates, it'll provide crime that threatens life instead of vaccines that save it, theft that takes goods instead of prosperity that provides them. It is hard to stay happy in the midst of those chronically sad and hard to stay sad in the midst of those who are chronically happy; even our emotional life depends on the state of those around us.

This ought to impact what an individual does. It should also impact what a country does. There are a variety of reasons to formulate policy that deals with the whole world rather than just our country. One of the biggest reasons is that globalization has made it official - we are one humanity with one shared planet and our fate is bound up. Even the simple and ubiquitous yellow number two pencil depends on trade between three continents. We can’t create a good life on a world gone mad.

Patriotism that pretends that the rest of the world doesn't matter, that we don't need to kowtow to international organizations like the UN, that we can fight childhood obesity without caring about starving children abroad - this is not just immoral. It is, ultimately, dangerous. No matter how strong the individual, his safety is a function of whether or not he lives in a safe neighborhood.

For this reason alone, Americans ought to cheer the fact that John Bolton lost his position as US Ambassador to the UN. He embodied the disrespect for international institutions and foreign people that seems to have characterized what is most repugnant about this Bush administration. His leaving offers hope that the US may again join the world community as a participant rather than dictator.

1 comment:

Thomas LB said...

I'm not sure changing the diplomat will really change much. We still have an administration that is openly hostile to the UN, and I think the rest of their world plans on just waiting two more years and dealing with the next administration. Hopefully, we'll have some grownups in office by then.

Bolton always reminded me of a Yosemite Sam cartoon I saw years ago. Sam was firing his guns into the ground and shouting, "I talk loud! And I carry a bigger stick! And I use it, too!"

By the way, I blogged today about your Secretary of Happiness idea. I gave you credit with a link back.