Every night, I read to my grandson at bedtime for 30 minutes to an hour. How long we read depends on how sleepy he is and what we're reading at the time. I subscribe to Russell Kirk's view, that the times call for cultivating an inclination toward boldness and courage in children:
"In a violent time, it is prudent to rear children on tales of peril -- and of heroism. If enough of the rising generation take the heroes of fantasy for their exemplars, the wolf will find sustenance less readily. 'What sharp teeth you have!' 'The better to eat you with my dear.' Give us more woodcutters, in the nick of time."
Lately we've been reading a politically incorrect series known as "Brilliant Bob" by Kenneth Jolivet. This is a series of short books that focus on a quartet of boyhood friends who have high aspirations and manly instincts. Also, the dad in the books is not a putz. So that's an unusual plus in itself.
Anyway, one of the books addresses the value of competitiveness, and it explicitly debunks the popular notion that children should be protected from the experience of losing. The book talks about how suffering the consequences of a loss helps to build resolve and determination in the one who lost. The book suggests that protecting someone from the consequences of failure is kind of like encouraging them to live a lie.
Which brings me to the U.S. Foreign Policy establishment.
The bureaucratic and political classes have brought us to disastrous ruin in Afghanistan. As many as 15,000 American citizens, 5X the number that died on 9/11 may be held hostage in the very place, and by the very people, who planned or facilitated 9/11 in the first place. And, of all things, on the 20th anniversary of the original attacks.
How much more symbolically absurd would their failure have to be for them to exit government service in humiliation and disgrace? (As I write this, a picture floats around inside my head of rats and sinking ships.)
But if history is any indicator, the U.S. foreign policy establishment is immune to embarrassment. So the question I guess I want to ask is...will anyone in the foreign policy establishment suffer any meaningful consequences at all? Because, if not, more people are inevitably going to die.
Participation trophies, in foreign policy, as in everything else, anesthetize the participant against feeling the pain required to learn from their mistakes. An inability to learn from mistakes ensures that they will be repeated. We have been repeating mistakes in Afghanistan for 20 years, and it's likely the only actual response by our government has been to promote members of the establishment right on schedule. After all, the IRS has been weaponized by the left and found in courts of law to have lawlessly targeted political adversaries. Yet the actual perpetrators have often, I'm not kidding, received bonuses and been promoted.
Why would we expect the foreign policy apparatus to behave any differently?
Participation trophies for everyone!
The problem, of course, is in the extent to which their abject failures never result in consequences for the foreign policy elite. Such a participation-trophy approach to conducting U.S. foreign policy is going to get ever more people killed. It remains to be seen how long this will be tolerated the rest of the country, but it has been tolerated for most of my adult lifetime.
Until a sizeable herd of the self-congratulatory Ivy League graduates, in the State and Defense departments, is frogmarched to the nearest exits, we should expect an endless parade of similar failures.