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Why Contemporary Western Elites Don’t Understand the World and Why Their Foreign Policies Fail


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PJ Media:

Barry Rubin
1/22/12

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Recently, I had a discussion with a brilliant academic who had grown up in a Communist country, has spent a lot of time in the United States, and studies this kind of thing. To explain how the U.S. conception of the world is shaped, he used the phrase “engineering mentality.”

The “engineering mentality” is one of the main factors in America’s brilliant success. I take it to mean that one approaches problems with a can-do (another American phrase) style. One rules out extraneous, distracting cultural and historical factors in order to figure out a practical way to fix things. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! Construct buildings, roads, and bridges; invent new products; revolutionize production methods. Don’t be intimidated by the traditional; don’t be afraid of change; just because it has never been done before doesn’t mean it cannot be done now. Forget about ideology or preconceived notions. Just get the job done as quickly, cheaply, and efficiently as possible.

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So while America’s engineering approach — just do what works best — may be part of the problem for the United States in dealing with Third World countries, the far bigger problem is the contemporary refusal to discuss what’s wrong with other societies. That also implies understanding what’s right about America and the nature of America’s own problems.

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