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Doing bad by doing good

By Owen Paine on Saturday May 27, 2006 11:51 AM

The fear of failed states -- that's the terror war's version of the cold war's fear of successful states.

An irresistible itch to help -- that's how a goo-goo tolerence of empire gets built.

Shall we snatch sources from deep into the 11th century? The crusades -- take a quick look at the alibi of the conquistador -- and closer to our burgher home time, land in the missionary position.

Folks, we need total abstinence here -- just say no. No helpful intervening. Ever. Leave the monsters to be dealt with by their own victims. Stay out. Stay away. We can only make it worse.

Good intentions are easily reshaped to "private gain" purposes -- take trade and gunplay -- they always get mixed into each other.

It started with Jefferson and the Barbary coast: the corsair harbor states were stealing our wares (an anti-competitive Brit setup in fact), so Marse Tom hit the shores of Tripoli.

Well, not the Massah himself -- that I could condone -- if the commander in chief is required to lead the raid or expedition in person, and challenge the top bad fellah to a little mano a mano -- oh, but I dribble on here.

You get the picture. We goo-goos can't resist giving help. But our hands are filled with poison apples, whether we like it or not. Stay home. Don't even send flowers. One unilateral bag of corn is too much, and a billion bombs is never enough.

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