Friday, September 24, 2010

Mark Twain's Neighbors and Why I'm Writing This Blog

By Barry Rubin

In 1870, Mark Twain, the great American writer and journalist, had just moved to Buffalo, New York, where he was part-owner and an editor of the newspaper. One Sunday morning Twain saw smoke pouring from the upper window of the house across the street, whose residents he had not yet met. The couple was sitting on their porch, unaware of the danger.

Twain calmly strolled across the street, bowed politely, and introduced himself:

"We ought to have called on you before, and I beg your pardon for intruding now in this informal way, but your house is on fire."

Dear readers, every day I am strolling across the Internet street to you in Western Europe and North America and as politely as possible pointing out that your house is on fire. As politely as possible I'm trying to explain that arsonists are pouring gasoline on the blaze while the fire department says all's okay and either you are imagining the fire or are to blame for it.

Since the houses here are built so closely together, unless we jump to action the whole neighborhood will go up in flames.

It would be a good idea to develop a foreign policy strategy to put out the blaze, but you can't do that until you recognize who set it and then drive them off or round them up.

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