"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

the long arc

FT.com / FT Magazine - Henry Kissinger talks to Simon Schama:

"What Kissinger took from Elliott was that without grasping the long arc of time, any account of politics and government would be shallow and self-defeating. That long view is on full display in the China book, which insists – entertainingly – on going back to the origins of Chinese classical culture and on through the many dynasties of the Middle Kingdom before even touching the epoch of decline, dismemberment and revolution. Kissinger smiles at the scene with which he opens his book, in which Mao gathered together the leaders of the party to listen to his account of a war that occurred during the Tang dynasty. “It would be like one of our leaders going back to the wars of Charlemagne.” And you get the feeling that Kissinger believes that it would do them no harm if they did. Instead he laments that “contemporary politicians have very little sense of history. For them the Vietnam war is unimaginably far behind us, the Korean war has no relevance any more,” even though that conflict is very far from over and at any minute has the capability of going from cold to hot."

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