Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Like great-grandfather, like great-grandson?

The brilliant but reckless general and diplomat Nicholas Ignatyev
That's a passage from Henry Kissinger's book Diplomacy. It's used to describe Michael Ignatieff's great-grandfather.

Apparently, one of Nicholas' claims to fame was the Treaty of San Stefano, which was the result of a military and diplomatic misadventure and overreach that the European powers were quick to reject. It turned Russian advantage into national humiliation — a setback that damaged the security of both Europe and Russia.

Fast forward more than a century later, and we have another Ignatieff who might have created his own Treaty of San Stefano. That is, by launching the Liberal party into a debate about Quebec nationhood, the great-grandson may have committed an error somewhat mimicking that of his great-grandfather. Michael may have squandered his position of strength as a front-runner in order to engage in foolish diplomatic and strategic maneuvers that served to damage all parties involved — including himself.

Yes, maybe history does repeat itself, especially in the same family.

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