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It is a long-established truth that everyone in the West is born into guilt while everyone else is born into innocence. But it seems that our penchant for self-blame is now informing what passes for our foreign policy.

In April David Cameron appeared in Pakistan alongside Baroness Warsi. During a press conference he refused to answer a question about Kashmir. His reason: "I don't want to try to insert Britain in some leading role where, as with so many of the world's problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place." In Heidelberg I recently took part in a discussion at the university where every other culture was talked about but any reference to "European culture" was scorned. The very idea that such a culture even existed was derided, as was the idea of the West.

It is inconceivable that a group of academics in Germany would deny any developing country its culture. Laugh at the very idea of European or Western culture by all means, but laugh at the idea that such a thing as "African", "Black" or "Aboriginal" culture exists and you would be thought not merely ignorant but racist. It is only we who do not have a past, only we who do not have an identity, and only we  who as a result cannot be trusted to act.
Had the Prime Minister taken a different tack in Pakistan it could have gone differently. When asked about the possible solutions to the Kashmir problem he might have said that if his Pakistani hosts had any decency they wouldn't speak about the problem. Given their country's historical crimes and its current disastrous influence on the world, it would be best if Pakistani politicians shut up on the subject.

But that is impossible: it would lead to accusations of bad diplomacy, racism and probably imperialism. Didn't Mr Cameron get the memo? Only the West can botch   anything up. And when the rest of the world botches things up, it's not their fault but the fault of the West for making them botch it up. If nothing recent can be seized upon, then something from an empire many decades ago surely can be. Which is a great deal if you're a Pakistani government seeking financial support. Or a Libyan dictator trying to cling to power. But what a lesson. It doesn't only keep democrats down, but keeps tyrants in place.
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June 18th, 2011
10:06 PM
Excellent article, as always. Although I don't know what is better on the online versions of such pieces; the writing themselves, or the seemingly hurt feelings of the narcissists whose views are contradicted for once.

Wakefield Tolbert
May 26th, 2011
1:05 AM
"Only the West has agency. This fatal mixture of narcissism, bad history and racism is not just terrible in itself: it constitutes a great strategic blunder at a crucial moment in history. For just as the Arabs finally seem willing to take responsibility upon themselves, the West reminds them of their old get-out." Bravo. Well said. One of the best parts, but the whole article was spot on in my semi-humble, polysci, multi-culti background. On that note, however, I'll add that IF the West really DOES have agency, and is to be held accountable for...well...apparently whatever happens due our decisions, then perhaps the Third World's warriors and tribalists and others engaged at war with themselves and us, should at long last start taking some of our non-military counsel before said counsel turns militaristic. Note where the problems really lie, in authoritarianism and oppression. Note the differences betwixt Third World and First. England no longer has reason to war with Germany, or France, or the USA, whatever our differences on many policy and other issues, culture, and more. Dig it. Cogitate. Rinse. Spin. Repeat, until the blood stains are out. If the West has fault in the foregoing, it is the knuckling under to the sundty demands of what are honestly very sundry regimes backed by sundry notions.

Only West has Agency My ass
May 25th, 2011
12:05 PM
"After all, if we did kill Gaddafi and the Libyan people ended up in a period of inter-tribal bloodshed we know who would be to blame, and it wouldn't be the people doing the killing. It's a lesson post-2003 Iraq reinforced. If we kill someone we're responsible and if someone else kills someone then we're still responsible. Only the West has agency." What a completely stupid piece of journalism. Yes you bloodhound if you kill somebody in someone else's sovereign country you are responsible and you are also responsible if you have been antagonizing war in such country but been pretending to act like the peacekeepers, something the US of Assholes have been doing at least once every decade or so. After all wouldn't it be handy if Libya fell in the hands of a pro-west dictator who would then make contracts with the West for all the yummy oil we are so quickly depleting. I mean nobody opposed Gadaffi for an entire 40 years. 40 years!! Nobody gave a shit, now all of a sudden he's on the "human rights offender" list (which I do not deny) but I'm betting his human rights violations haven't been happening in the last few months. Still the Good ol US never gave a shit before then, not till the impending civil war started increasing the prices at the petrol browser. Needless to say the only reason Americans are not going into full scale war is because they cannot afford it, they are in 14.6 trillion dollar debt. Some article I just read recently said if you put it all in five dollar notes, there would be enough paper to reach the Earth's moon. So you see the reason why you Yankees can't do the thing you love doing (bursting in into Libya all guns (and bombs) blazing) is not because some sort of invisible UN convention is holding you back (you proved you could override UN conventions back in the 1999 Kosovo War) its actually because you can't afford to have your jet fighters and frigates roaming around for another 10 years whilst you're "trying" to "stabilize" another country. As for that moronic comment "only west has agency" you have been doing nothing but trying to play the blame game every time you start the war, the classic excuse is "the region's violent conflicts have been stretching through countless generations, it wasn't us who sparked it again"......all I can see when I read this article is one big Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....

Robert Underdunk Terwilliger
May 5th, 2011
10:05 AM
Does this magazine have anything to write other than negative articles about Islam and Muslims? I'll stick to Prospect thanks.

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