Confidence is a vital element of life, for nations and civilizations as much as for individuals. Confidence is the ingredient of hope. It allows you to project yourself into the future, to fulfill or even transcend your capabilities. It comes from within, but can be reinforced or weakened by the way others perceive you. But confidence, like blood pressure, must be balanced: the problem starts when you have too much or too little of it. Overconfidence tends to be as destabilizing as a lack of it.
Consider, for example, America in Iraq. The Bush administration’s overconfidence in the validity of its objectives – democratizing the Middle East – much more than implementation failures, was the key factor behind the unfolding catastrophe there.