The Arrogance of Meddling with Foreign Affairs

Scene 1

Civilian A: “Hey, your neighbors seem really dysfunctional. I hear them yelling, sometimes the kids leave late at night, there might be some pretty bad dynamics over there.”

Civilian B: “Yeah, but what do I know? It’s a complex relationship and I have a hard time believing I’d help by butting in. There are a few generations of dysfunction involved, and I wouldn’t know where to begin. I don’t feel right just going and knocking on the door and trying to insert myself into the conversation. Sadly, I probably can’t help them as an outsider.”

Scene 2

Civilian A: “Hey, that country on the other side of the world, the name of which I can’t remember or pronounce, seems pretty messed up. I have no idea if it is or not, since I can’t speak the language and I’ve never been there or seen any firsthand accounts, but it just kinda seems like one of those messed up places. Maybe you should go over and, you know, make it better with some guns and stuff?”

Military Person B: “Yeah, I’m pretty confident I get the dynamics of a few million people with really diverse culture, history, language, and religion, as well as decades of interlacing political institutions. I’ve never studied it, but I do know how to yell and point guns. I’m sure if I fly over unannounced, kick in a few doors, and bring several thousand menacing-looking friends who are full of adrenaline and have no idea about conflict resolution techniques we can sort things out in no time. I’m a natural helper, and I think they’ll appreciate me coming to help them sort things out.”