“I believe, as a general rule, Governments achieve the reverse of their stated objectives. I hesitate to call it a unique universal law and there may also be other formulations.” This masterly formulation by Walrus is by and large true, I think.
I kept thinking of familiar predicaments, the Iraq Invasion of 2003, the Vietnam War, the Great Depression of 1932, etc., but one figure and one country seem to be to embody the dictum of Walrus, and that would be Germany and its leader, Adolph Hitler.
The 1919 peace agreement at Versailles saddled Germany with the blame for the war, wrecked its economy, humiliated its citizens, and formed the festering resentment that for years sat in the national soul. The British maintained its economic blockade of Germany for a year after the armistice, causing the deaths of thousands of Germans by starvation. A more generous policy would have been the best course, but Germany’s foreign opponents were greedy, cruel, exploitative, and oppressive and enjoyed inflicting pain on their defeated enemy.