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Envy and Pride at the root of the world's problems?

If you were to ask most of the international crew that claim to be working for the benefit of humanity what is the root cause of the cause of suffering, they would probably pick poverty or greed. Most suffering can be ameliorated by material goods, so it is clear that the lack of these goods or the hoarding of wealth by an elite will cause suffering. The rich nations must give more to the poor.

If you were to ask the anti-globo wackos that claim to be throwing rocks and chanting insipid rhymes for the benefit of humanity, they would point the finger at corporations. Clearly, because corporations have money and power and the poor of the world don't, they are the problem. (Okay, it's not that clear, but that's what they say...)

If you were to ask the libertarians what the problem is, they would say it is bad, corrupt governments. They soak up what wealth there is in a society and use it to maintain their power. Without the freedom for people to use wealth as they see fit, it cannot grow and spread around.

All three seem to agree that money is at the heart of the problem. It's just who's at fault that's open to debate. But Victor Davis Hanson feels pride and envy are the real source of the problem.

Where Americans see skill and subtlety in taking out Saddam Hussein and a costly effort to liberate a people, many Iraqis, even as they taste freedom, drive new cars, and see things improve, talk instead of humiliation, hurt pride, or anger at their own impotence whether whining over the morticians' make-up work on Qusay, or ashamed about Saddam's pathetic televised dental examination. Iraqis scream on camera that we should not stay another minute, but even more often whisper that we better not leave yet. Too often they seem to be mostly angry that we, not they, took out Saddam Hussein. While the tyrant's departure was a "good" thing, it would have been even better had he killed a few thousand Americans in the process if only to restore the sort of braggadocio lost by the Baathist flight and antics of a mendacious Baghdad Bob.

Israel suffers from the same dilemma of dealing with others' hurt pride as we do. It created a relatively humane society throughout the West Bank from 1967-1993 and raised the standard of living, and promoted individual freedom for Palestinians in way impossible elsewhere in the Arab world. But all that won no gratitude; instead, it stoked the fury arising from Arabs' sense of weakness and self-contempt. In the world of the Palestinian lobster bucket, Israel's great sin is not bellicosity or aggression, but succeeding beyond the wildest dreams of its neighbors. How humiliating it must be to be incapable of even muttering the word "Israel" (hence the need for "Zionist entity"), but nevertheless preferring an Israeli to a Palestinian ID card.

Indeed Anwar Sadat, by his own admission, went to war in 1973 not to liberate outright the Sinai (that was militarily impossible), but to show the Arab world he could surprise and for three to four days even stun the Israelis, and thereby restore the wounded "pride" of the Egyptians. We think that the total encirclement of his Third Army was a terrible defeat saved from abject annihilation by American diplomacy and Soviet threat. Egyptians saw it instead as a source of honor that it even got across the canal.

To all the examples he uses you could throw in the two world wars and a whole lot of smaller wars, as well the petty economic nationalism that spurs people to support policies that are to their detriment. Lots to think about in this article.


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