09 February 2007

Lantern's light

A while ago, I commented on Matthew Yglasias' well-circulated Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics.

As you may know, the Green Lantern Corps ... recruits members from all sorts of different species and equips them with the most powerful weapon in the universe, the power ring.

The ring is a bit goofy. Basically, it lets its bearer generate streams of green energy that can take on all kinds of shapes. The important point is that, when fully charged what the ring can do is limited only by the stipulation that it create green stuff and by the user's combination of will and imagination.


Suffice it to say that I think all this makes an okay premise for a comic book. But a lot of people seem to think that American military might is like one of these power rings. They seem to think that, roughly speaking, we can accomplish absolutely anything in the world through the application of sufficient military force. The only thing limiting us is a lack of willpower.

Now I see that John Holbo at Crooked Timber finds himself reading some of the reasoning of hawkish bloggers, quoting Josh “Tacitus” Trevino saying:

The ability of a society to see through grinding conflicts like the Philippines Insurrection or the Boer War augers well for its future, lest it lose the mere capacity to conquer, and be susceptible to humiliation by any small power with no advantage save mental fortitude.

And this has Holbo thinking of the Green Lantern Theory. He makes a good point about it.

Do you think the problem with people who think this way is that they don’t read enough comic books, or do they read too many?

The former option hadn't occurred to me, but I'm finding it an intriguing possibility.

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