Indifferent to the specter of unleashed state-sponsored terrorism, France and China announced this week that they have joined forces to help Iran develop its natural gas fields. Apparently, an enriched and empowered radical theocracy is nothing to worry about — assuming the infamous Iran nuclear deal actually ensures any measure of global security.
It’s hard not to recall the parable of the frog and the scorpion:
A scorpion once asked to ride on the back of a frog to reach the other side of a river. At first, the frog refused, fearing for its life. But then the scorpion reasoned that the frog had nothing to worry about since, if it stung the frog, it would drown in the river as well. The frog could not argue with the scorpion’s logic and allowed it to climb aboard.
Midway across the river, the scorpion stung the frog. “Why did you do that?” cried the frog. “Now we will both die.”
“I couldn’t help it,” replied the scorpion. “It’s in my nature to sting, so I had to sting.”
The truth is that it’s easier to sympathize with the frog than with the French. The frog wanted to do a good deed and — albeit mistakenly — saw no cause for mistrusting the scorpion.
In contrast, the French and the Chinese want nothing but a larger slice of the world-economic pie, and they are willing to ignore the inevitable long-term dangers for short-term profit. The mild satisfaction of being able to tell them “we told you so” some years down the line will hardly supply adequate consolation for the precarious state the world will find itself in.
Of course, the allegory is imperfect for a different reason. France and China are scorpions, too. Dangerous, irresponsible, and unwilling to change their natures.
At the very least, however, their self-serving self-deception should make us ask ourselves: Are we frogs or scorpions? What about the candidates we vote into office?
And if we refuse to change our individual and collective natures, how far across the river can we expect to get?