It turns out I'll be teaching a different course at the University of Toronto starting in September--a seminar in political philosophy, specifically on Aristotle's Ethics, the book I wrote my dissertation on.

A real treat for me, which results from bad news for the Department: they did not succeed in filling a full-time position.

So I have some work to do.

I digressed over the last couple of weeks to work on a family history. My older brother had a draft he had worked on with our mother; some old letters had surfaced; and it's all kind of on my mind because of my quick visit to Edmonton. I still have some work to do in order to incorporate as much detail on my mother's side as we have on my father's side.

And I'm still planning to get back to an article on The War on Terror: Towards a Thucydidean approach. After 9/11, Americans were frightened as well as angry; both emotions made them feel the whole world was a problem to be solved; any erstwhile ally who questioned what they were doing was soft on evil, etc.; and anything they chose to do was justified, as long as it wasn't actually as bad as Buchenwald, or something. All of this reinforces that the U.S. has been generally isolationist, with occasional interventions in the world, increasingly dramatic in the 20th century. They prefer that their interventions can be justified morally; that they don't sound like imperialism, or even the beginnings of imperialism; and that the rationale for them makes it sound as if all U.S. troops will be home soon, even if this isn't likely or true. In fact, despite their tendency toward isolationism, they like to think of themselves as liberators of the entire world, so every intervention has the potential to be justified this way: this isn't just a war in hell-hole number 58; this is a significant step, even if a small step, toward turning the whole world into something we're going to like a lot better--or at least, be able to pronounce the names of.

In all of this, there is at least a close correspondence between the American approach and the Spartan approach in Thucydides. Sparta actually did liberate quite a few people.

In the old joke, the American kid writes: "Towards a better--and cheaper--elephant." In U.S. military interventions, the rationale is: "Towards a better--and cheaper--world." Of course, the promise of cheapness doesn't necessarily pan out either.

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