Monday, November 12, 2012

Mead strikes out

From the opening of Walter Russell Mead's review-essay "Peace Out," in the current issue of Foreign Affairs:
The modern peace movement is almost 200 years old; its origins can be traced to the period that followed the devastating wars of the Napoleonic era in Europe. In those two centuries, peace movements have had little discernible impact on world events, and what effect they have had has often been bad: the European peace and disarmament movement of the 1930s, for example, greatly facilitated Hitler's plans for a war of revenge. For all the good they have done, those well-intentioned souls who have sought to achieve world peace through the organization of committees, the signing of petitions, the holding of rallies, and the promotion of international treaties might just as well have stayed home.
Mead may be half-right about the peace movement of the 1930s, but overall this passage is wrong. Modern peace movements obviously failed to prevent the twentieth century's world wars but they have nonetheless had a long-term positive impact: see e.g. here.

Then in the next paragraph Mead refers to "the argument of the economist and British parliamentarian Sir Norman Angell that war's economic irrationality would prevent twentieth-century wars...." In fact that is not what Angell argued, as I've had occasion to point out before.

That's two strikes, and let's give Mead a third strike for writing and publishing this at all. So Mead strikes out.

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