They don’t care about history, not while in office anyway. They may scramble to spin their work once in retirement, as Dick Cheney is so obviously and aggressively trying, but leaders often appear tone deaf to history while they’re in power.
The two current wars are examples.
After the Vietnam fiasco, when the US whipped up its irrational fear of communism to create a paranoia in the land and an excuse to stop the dreaded ideology in its tracks, the US, rather than learn from its mistakes, chooses to repeat them.
In both current wars, the US has concocted excuses to invade unknown lands only to find that the homefront jumps the bandwagon as the wars (quite predictably) go badly, just like in Vietnam. In all these wars there was never a threat to the homeland, not from Vietnam, not from Afghanistan, not from Iraq. And yet they still invade.
US leaders appear to agree with Dr. Johnson: History teaches us nothing, except that nothing can be learned from history.
And what did the Israelis learn from Apartheid South Africa? The textbook was there; they never bothered to read it. Because of this illiteracy, the Israeli flag has become the very symbol of immorality.
And now we enter a whole new order of historical indifference. As the planet warms and global waters literally rise, world leaders think about the moment and turn a blind eye to history. It’s always easier to do nothing.
The Copenhagen Conference on Global Warming is an opportunity for leaders to shine. Instead, many are hiding.
But these names will be exposed; they will be linked with that scourge of Rome, Nero. He fiddled while his city burned. While the planet warms, the Obamas and the Harpers are off playing politics.
And to think these two represent democracies.