Logically, Illogical: Analysis of Peter Beinhart's "The Icarus Syndrome"

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Logically, Illogical
Peter Beinart’s The Incarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris engages the reader in his comparison of America’s leadership to old Greek Mythology. Specifically, in Greek Mythology, Incarus is the son of a craftsman, Daedalus. A story of hubris or fail ambition, Daedalus crafts wings made from fathers and wax for his son. The father tells his son not to fly too close to the sun, for it would melt. Incarus began flying modesty but, as he became comfortable, began to flying higher and too close to the sun. Beinart compares this tragedy to American leadership who rarely fly with modesty but, rather, with overly ambitions tendencies. The Incarus Syndrome takes a critical view into the past 100 years of American foreign policy and, specifically, the First World War, Vietnam, and the Iraq War. The book begins with a description of Beinart’s meeting with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., an American historian, where he was asked “Why did your generation support this war?” Taken by surprise, Beinart began to fumble through an answer about the Iraq War but was saved by the spilling of Schlesinger’s drink. From this story, the author analyzes the unfortunate pattern of American history. Although Beinart acknowledges his great political influence, the author is highly critical of President Woodrow Wilson in his leadership of the progressives into World War I. In the novel, Wilson represents the “Hubris of Reason.” During the time, Wilson entered WWI because of the German U-boat and the Zimmerman telegraph, but also to “remake the world image.” Wilson, a man of structure and rationality, wanted a “scientific peace” and a settlement based on reason. During the time, the president used his progressive ideology and advanced logic to denounce “insidious” lobbyist, pass the first tax reduction in twenty years, pass the first bank reorganization in fifty year, and create the Federal Trade Commission to investigate business fraud (Beinart 23). However, the...
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