Friday, June 7, 2013

use and abuse of Shakespeare

The title for this series of comments, rants, and suggestions comes from Shakespeare's Henry IV, whenthe dying king tells his son:
"Be it thy course, to busy giddy minds/ With foreign quarrels"
I use it because it illustrates the sometimes connection between public opinion and foreign policy and lets me include a wide variety of topics.

So it was with dismay, when reading a fine new book about U.S. politics in 1940, that the noted American historian, Charles Beard, had written a pamphlet of the same title arguing for an isolationist foreign policy. He cites Washington's farewell address and Monroe's doctrine as sufficient enough to protect America. He also says:
Not until some formidable European power comes into the western Atlantic, breathing the fire of aggression and conquest, need the United States become alarmed about the ups and downs of European conflicts, intrigues, aggressions, and wars. And this peril is slight at worst. To take on worries is to add useless burdens, to breed distempers at home, and to discover, in the course of time, how foolish and vain it all has been. The destiny of Europe and Asia has not been committed, under God, to the keeping of the United States; and only conceit, dreams of grandeur, vain imaginings, lust for power, or a desire to escape from our domestic perils and obligations could possibly make us suppose that Providence has appointed us his chosen people for the pacification of the earth.
What's worse, I learned from the book that an isolationist committee receiving substantial money from the German embassy circulated thousands of copies of the Beard pamphlet.

Well,I'm not going to change the name of this blog, but I do hope that readers never confuse it with the views of Professor Beard. As you may know, copyright applies to texts but not to the titles of works.

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