Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rory Stewart | Lunch with the FT

Rory Stewart, author of "The Irresistible Illusion," sat down for lunch with the FT this week.

It really is an incisive and enjoyable interview that touches on multifarious aspects of counterinsurgency, post-conflict reconstruction, development, and political influence. It goes well with Saturday/Sunday morning coffee.

My favorite part, which captures Stewart's preternatural longing for a system of politics based on philosophy and rational thought, follows:

“I’d love to do politics in Britain,” he says after a pause to taste a delicious cauldron of shellfish, tentacles and soggy bread. “But the important thing is to understand our culture and society in order to know how you do that. Being an elected member of parliament might not be the best way – it could be, it probably is, but – well – the question is whether you can actually play a useful role in changing policy in any way.”

It’s hard to know where Rory Stewart really belongs. He says he likes working with communities, but it’s difficult to imagine him enjoying the lifestyle of a British constituency politician. He wants to “change things for the better in a way that is enduring and worthwhile and not just superficially impressive ... or because it looks good on your cv”. In another age, he would have been a statesman, an explorer, a philosopher – but today?

The full interview may be read here.

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