Sparking The Moral Imagination

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 4 2012 @ 4:42pm

Bob Wright praises Paul's foreign policy worldview:

I've long thought that the biggest single problem in the world is the failure of "moral imagination"–the inability or unwillingness of people to see things from the perspective of people in circumstances different from their own. Especially incendiary is the failure to extend moral imagination across national, religious, or ethnic borders.

If a lack of moral imagination is indeed the core problem with America's foreign policy, and Ron Paul is unique among presidential candidates in trying to fight it, I think you have to say he's doing something great, notwithstanding the many non-great and opposite-of-great things about him (and notwithstanding the fact that he has in the past failed to extend moral imagination across all possible borders).

I'd make a further point: understanding your enemy from the inside out is vital if you are to foil him. When your foreign policy is based entirely on abstract arguments about America and ideology, and not also on figuring out how your foe might act rationally (and the Iranian regime has acted quite rationally in its own self-interest since it began), can lead to fatal error. Moral imagination, in other words, is the twin sister of self-interested strategy.