Conflict arises from the leadership of ‘excessively optimistic and impatient men…’

Just a thought

…societies have historically been “persuaded to fight because most of their leaders were excessively optimistic and impatient men, and persuaded to cease fighting because those leaders, having failed, had been replaced by more cautious men.”


  • megatron

    I am not sure that is the direct relationship. I am more in the mould of

    society changes => leader changes => war / no war.

    Society changes first.

  • “societies have historically been “persuaded to fight because most of their leaders were excessively optimistic and impatient men,”


    I think it is probably more true that they were persuaded to fight because their leaders lacked a realistic political imagination and in the hothouse atmosphere of a crisis opted for military action.

    As you are no doubt quite aware, this quote does not seem to apply to NI, where the leaders who led–or cheered from the sidelines–the two tribes into battle have now emerged at the top of the heap and then made peace. Paisley first disposed of all of the more cautious men in unionism before becoming cautious himself. On the Republican side I think there is a case to be made for actual learning having taken place since the late 1980s.

    Sometimes the peace fails and the more cautious men are replaced by the more impatient men. This happened to Trimble as his party became impatient for decommissioning. In the Holy Land, it occurred with first Rabin being murdered and then Peres replaced by Netanyahu and then Netanyahu replaced by Barak who in turn was replaced by Sharon. When nothing seems to be working the electorate will often rapidly replace leaders in an attempt to get the right combination of strategy and leader. On the Palestinian side the more cautious Abbas replaced Arafat, but the Islamists became more impatient. With Israel’s assassination campaign against the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership it is very difficult to tell how much learning is going on as leaders are quickly killed and replaced.

  • tacapall

    “Our forefathers, and those who were reckoned wise, were accustomed to say that it was necessary to hold Pistoia by factions and Pisa by fortresses; and with this idea they fostered quarrels in some of their tributary towns so as to keep possession of them the more easily …they nursed these disputes amongst them, so that the citizens, distracted by their differences, should not unite against them.” Niccolo Machiavelli

    Without intentionally sown confusion, and war waged in the name of religion, this planet and culture might have taken an entirely different path. The desire to keep the status quo and thwart the expansion of others for the last few centuries has caused the deaths of millions upon millions of innocent human beings.

    Thats not down to societies that’s down to the privileged elite wanting to keep and expand their lifestyles and finances.

  • cynic2

    Surely its simple. We just suspect the motives of themuns (be they Huns or Japs or Prods) so its easier to fight than talk – their eyes are too close together anyway anyway

  • looneygas

    Blainey seems to me to be saying that people will fight if they figger they can win a fight, and talk if they figger they can’t win a fight.
    Occam’s Razor.

  • aquifer

    There is also a strong correlation of violence with under-employed young men.

  • looneygas

    Also the observation that 2 evenly matched sides won’t go to war as neither has a good chance of decisive victory. Good news for NI.