If You Had Trust, You Would Not Fear

For the last few days quite a lot of panicky people have talked about their fear that they were about to witness the start of a massive war between the United States and Iran.  While plenty of potentially provocative incidents between nations are not very uncommon [1], wars are mercifully not common, and that is because even where substantial disagreements exist, most nations these days would rather not go to war given the expense in blood and treasure that it involves.  Far more often there is a measured use of violence, such as the launching of cruise missiles and targeted drone strikes and protests and the like, that falls short of war that manages to assuage the bloodlust of one’s people and preserve national honor without going to the full level of declared warfare.  To be sure, sometimes a nation and its leaders find the push towards war impossible to avoid, but most of the time nations, even those nations with a lot of disagreements, are able to stop short of the brink even if relations between the two sides are always more than a little bit testy, as is the case between India and Pakistan, for example.

Why would people be afraid about the start of World War III more than they have been in the past.  During the course of my writing there were a great many provocations from the likes of Iran, Turkey, Russia, North Korea, and China over the course of the last few years.  One time I even managed to discover an unintentional invasion of a country by at least one lost soldier of its neighbor on war exercises.  During the course of this none of the conflicts I have written about in such a fashion as being a possible provocation of armed conflict has resulted in full-scale war.  Why would it be different this time?  For many people, the fact that we have one president in the White House instead of another is the difference between the comfort of knowing that it is safe to go to sleep without being afraid that World War III is starting and the fear that our current president will start a great war.  Whatever happens in the future with further provocations and tensions as there is likely to be in this area, I do not have any particular great fear about our current president because of the restraint he has already shown when it comes to his treasonous internal enemies.  By and large I see him as a realist when it comes to global affairs who is intent to make sure that America is seen as strong without in fact being a bully towards others or being easily provoked into foolish conflicts.  Those who extrapolate his interest in Twitter beefs (an interest I happen to personally share) to a pattern of warmongering fail to recognize his strong sense of restraint that comes from the frequent exercise and deep knowledge of power that he has acquired over decades of leadership.

Why is it that people fear instead of trust in this case?  While I am no particular partisan of our president [2], I respect him and support him far greater than I do his rivals on the left.  While I am in general ambivalent at best about populism as a political temperament, there is a great deal to admire in someone who shows a willingness to tackle the corrupt nature of our political and cultural elites despite the obvious negative attention it draws.  And I find a great deal to admire in his restraint towards the carping and criticism and obstruction that others regularly dish out towards him.  Knowing my own prickly nature, I strongly doubt that I would be as restrained myself in dealing with those who have attempted to overthrow him, which speaks to his willingness to overlook that which would irritate to intense frustration a less restrained and more prickly person in authority.  My respect for the man does not come from a blind favoritism but rather from having seen the conditions under which he operates and having a respect for how he has handled difficult times and situations, showing a judicious combination of fierce rhetoric and restrained response that pleases his partisans and infuriates his enemies.  And given that respect, I feel no need to panic about the state of my country.  To the extent that I fear about the well-being of my nation it is not because of my president, at any rate, but because of the hostility to him that I see from so many who judge themselves as the natural leaders of our nation and world.

And I say this despite not being someone who finds it easily to trust in general nor someone who sleeps particularly easy under most circumstances.  To the extent that I have recognized the essential reasonableness and proportionality of responses for the president, and since I have a strong degree of confidence in the worth of the counsel he receives, I am not afraid that he will lead our nation foolishly into bloody war.  I am confident that if the interests of the United States are threatened to a great degree that he will respond forcefully, but not foolishly.  Among those who fear, it is obvious that this fear comes from their own lack of respect for him, a lack of respect that frequently manifests itself in expressions of contempt and a total lack of ability to recognize the virtues of the man or his approach.  We fear because we lack trust.  We lack trust because we lack respect.  We lack respect because we fail to draw the appropriate insight about others from how we see them operate.  After all, if we saw how common it was for people to act with grace and restraint under great pressure and provocation, then we would trust that this restraint would at least prevent us from acting on the worst aspects of our nature to such a degree that we would endanger those who are in our trust.  But we have blinded ourselves to the truth, and so we cannot be comforted by it or its implications.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2010/12/20/yeonpyeong-island-and-fort-sumter-an-essay-on-provocation/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/03/16/the-jugglers-dilemma/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/05/12/let-slip-the-dogs-of-war-crisis-in-the-spratly-islands/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/11/a-wave-of-populism/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in International Relations, Middle East, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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