I am amazed at how poor some of our prominent “analysts” are at analysing, particularly when it involves other countries, or even other people. I think it is a failure of imagination, which is not to take away from the fact that it is a catastrophic failure. If you can’t get into your opponent’s mind then you are of little use as an advisor, or leader.
Take the North African revolutions. I was talking to one of our regular contributors who opined that Gaddafi was making a mistake attacking his own people. I said I thought not. If you are a dictator, this is what you do to maintain power. And anyway, it was starting to look like a civil war, so who would he suggest Gaddafi shoot? Or should a dictator just roll over and let the nearest majority carry him away?
Now the Syrians are following my advice. Or rather, they know exactly what they should do.
We live in a nominally Christian country and we have just celebrated Easter. It’s worth dwelling on some of the things that the Bible teaches us.
A popular mnemonic in Sunday schools is WWJD – “What would Jesus do?” That’s one set of Bible teachings.
But we can also learn a lot by asking “What would the Romans do?” That’s another set of Bible teachings that are less explored, but valuable nevertheless.
We know one thing they would do, and that is crucify any trouble makers. We also know that they found the Jews so troublesome that they crucified thousands of them, demolished their temple and scattered the rest to the four ends of the earth. It’s all there in the Bible.
The Romans ran one of the most successful empires and dictatorships that the world has ever seen. So if you want to be a successful dictator, then it’s worth studying what they did, and projecting yourself into their shoes. And if you want to understand dictators, then the Bible is a very good place to start.
Perhaps more attention during RE lessons might have actually helped our analysts to analyse.