[FOUNTAIN]Wrong to the bitter end

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[FOUNTAIN]Wrong to the bitter end

American historian Barbara Tuchman points to four kinds of misgovernment that have damaged countries. First, tyrannical and oppressive rulers such as Emperor Nero of the Roman Empire and Joseph Stalin of the former Soviet Union drove their respective countries into destruction. Second, she refers to excessive ambition. The defeat of Hitler, who dreamed of ruling the world as the superior race, and the Japanese Empire, which pushed for a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, demonstrated the ramifications of excessive ambition. Third, she points to incompetence or decadence, the downfalls of the Roman Empire and Russia’s Romanov Dynasty serving as prime examples. Finally, she alludes to the folly or perversity of the ruler as a powerful way to send the country toward destruction. The ignorant and foolish leaders of ancient Troy invited a suspicious Greek horse inside their fortress and suffered a calamity; under the influence of mysticism and superstition, Emperor Montezuma, the ruler of the Aztec Empire, which had a population of 5,000,000, relinquished power to Cortes and his measly army of 600 soldiers. Despite much opposition and many warnings, a self-righteous ruler perished after stubbornly sticking to the worst course of action. Tuchman focuses on misgovernment based on folly or perversity. The ruler makes all the wrong choices, blinded to the obvious answers that can be reached with just a little common sense and wisdom. The individual personality of the ruler may play a role in cases of folly or perversity; nevertheless, it seems the ruler can avoid marching down the wrong path by giving matters a little more thought. However, the inability to change ideas is the first characteristic of self-righteous leaders. This kind of ruler appraises situations with biased stereotypes and utterly disregards any signs of opposition, adopting a non-compromising attitude. The ruler does not budge from his original thought and fails to change course despite uncovering new facts. Philip II of Spain, who sent the Invincible Armada to attack England and drove the nation into debt, is a prime example of a self-righteous leader. “No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence,” (from “The March of the Folly”).
In a televised speech at the National Unification Advisory Council, President Roh Moo-hyun showed no remorse for his policy failures or personnel scandals. He was full of rage and bitterness against opposing powers. He blamed others for mistakes and did not budge from his faith that he was right. He seems bent on joining the “march of the folly” which has continued throughout human history.

*The writer is an editorial writerof the
JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Jong-soo
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