Back during the reign of George the Younger, when public opinion on the war in Iraq began to sour, defenders of the administration would insist that really, we could coerce Iraq (not to mention Afghanistan and Iran) into becoming a peaceful and harmonious and pro-American democracy, if we only tried harder, and shame on those dirty hippies for sapping America’s mighty will. Matthew Yglesias lampooned this attitude by calling it the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics.
We lefties, members of the reality-based community, enlightened souls full of respect and compassion for other cultures, would never fall for this kind of sloppy thinking, right?
Comrades, I give you environmentally conscious movie director James Cameron, commenting on Brazil’s controversial Belo Monte dam project:
I felt like I was 130 years back in time watching what the Lakota Sioux might have been saying at a point when they were being pushed and they were being killed and they were being asked to displace and they were being given some form of compensation. This was a driving force for me in the writing of Avatar – I couldn’t help but think that if they [the Lakota Sioux] had had a time-window and they could see the future… and they could see their kids committing suicide at the highest suicide rates in the nation… because they were hopeless and they were a dead-end society – which is what is happening now – they would have fought a lot harder.
Like Orwell’s “Big Brother” and “Newspeak”, Yglesias’s “Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics” will probably outlast this decade’s political passions, because it describes a fallacy more deeply embedded in our culture than any one party’s platform. Unfortunately.
In the meantime, I encourage Americans who regard the Lakota Sioux as human beings who aspire to prosper with their community, rather than as hopeless children of a dead-end society, to donate to the Native American College Fund.
via [redacted]’s LJ