I think that Western leaders have to take into account the fact that their own people are also not always rational, and this impacts on what is considered to be in the national interest.
In short, and especially when you have a democracy, you cannot divorce the perceived national interest from a people's culture and as the author of part 2 has remarked, culture will out.
Here are just a few examples where it could be argued that sheer cold brutal expediency didn't, in the final result, determine policy:
- "Poor Little Belgium is being raped by the Huns" - one of the reasons the British Empire entered the First World War so enthusiastically.
- Retaining the Falkland Islands. The costs of recovering and retaining these islands far exceed any economic benefits. The few people who live on them are of no importance in the great scheme of things.
- Support for Israel. If this was obviously in the national interest, both Israel and domestic Jewish lobbies wouldn't have to worry constantly about Western support.
- Support for East Timor. The East Timorese display little capability and this failed micro state will be a constant drain on Australian resources for the foreseeable future. Objectively, it would have been far preferable for it to have remained a province of Indonesia. Indonesia would have borne all the costs and Australia would have been able to negotiate a better deal over the Timor Gap. However, a religious faith shared with many in Australia together with memories of support for our soldiers during WW2 helped generate a less expedient approach.
Given our culture, nothing will stop what might be called Western Interfering Missionary Programs (or WIMPS for short). They are a product of a free society and an economic prosperity that gives people time and resources to display their moral superiority, carefully sugared with a coating of pseudo-humanitarian blather. Some WIMPS we may not dislike, others we may deplore, but whatever kind, the world will have to put up with them. I particularly dislike certain NGOs such as Greenpeace and I deplore ego-driven bureaucratic arrogant do-gooder world government monstrosities such as the International Criminal Court. But these things are here to stay. They are like the Left, of which Richard Fernandez once remarked:
The Left is the Mr. Hyde of Western civilization, and as such probably ineradicable for as long as the civilization itself exists. As a practical matter, it has to be treated as a golf handicap. There’s no use railing against it. All that anyone can do is make allowances for their inevitable input.
Moose may deplore the Orange Revolution, but you have as much chance of stopping the promotion of this kind of thing as you have of stopping the spread of the common cold. The key is that it's more a matter of culture rather than of calculation. Sometimes there will be successes, perhaps temporary, as with the Ukraine; other times, hopeless and perpetual failure, as with Tibet. Bad experiences may slow and defeats reverse the changes sought, but like war itself, which they will help promote, WIMPS will continue to the end of time, or at least to the end of Western Civilisation as we currently know it.