Tuesday, October 27, 2015

the principles of the lever

What the

Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration

are doing is,

taking hold of the levers that are available to them

in the style of Pope Francis, who, as James Carroll wrote in The New Yorker, "has seized the levers that are available to him, and to everyone's surprise...those old levers are still geared to the engines of world improvement",

and in the style of President Kennedy -- seeing if "we, in our own time, can move the world to a just and lasting peace" who was himself borrowing the style of

Archimedes, explaining the principles of the lever -- "Give me a place where I can stand, and I shall move the world."

----------------------- [excerpt, The Last of the President's Men, Woodward] ---------------- His [Nixon's] finest moment as president was surely the opening of China.  Not only did he establish relations with the Chinese Communists but he leveraged the new relationship against the Soviet Union.  It was a large global strategic move....

In his memoir White House Years Kissinger said the announcement of the trip by Nixon shook the world.  "Not only was it a sensation for the media; overnight it transformed the structure of international politics." ----------------- [end excerpt]

President Nixon, in 1972, grasped the levers available to him and moved the world.

The book adds, at at the end of that segment, that conservative commentator William F. Buckley severely criticized the normalization of relations with China.  Given the barbarity of the Chinese leaders, he had written, "We have lost -- irretrievably -- any remaining sense of moral mission in the world."

Two points to note, in considering this:

1.  The leaders in China at that time may have been barbaric, but the minute they received Pres. Nixon and Henry Kissinger, they accepted pressure from the West (pressing on those invisible "levers") to stop being barbaric.

2.  When Buckley says "we have lost any remaining sense of moral mission in the world", he is using hyperbole,

and when he says "irretrievably," that piles absolutist, doomsday-style "drama" on top of the hyperbole which moves his Commentary along the spectrum, away from level-headed analysis, toward grandstanding.

(If Mr. Buckley truly believed "we have lost -- irretrievably -- any remaining sense of moral mission in the world," then we could expect to not hear from him anymore, right?  What would be the point?  Well -- not until the following week when his next column was due...)


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