Friday, August 22, 2008

Our preemptive obligations


As to how far we can go toward invading the rest of the non Liberal-Democratic world and then stay near to make sure it becomes Democratic, I think we’ve bitten off about as much as we can chew – both militarily and economically. You keep implying that we shouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq unless we were also and at the same time willing to invade Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, North Korea and everyone else that might be considered of comparable danger by your standard. I fail to see the logic if your argument.

Consider the Good Samaritan. He helped the injured person he was confronted with. By your logic, he should not have helped that person unless he was willing to help all injured people. The obverse suggests that we should not attack those who attack us and our friends unless we are also willing to attack all those who are as nasty as those who attack us. I fail to see the necessity of applying something like Kant’s Categorical Imperative to these situations. We may be more powerful than anyone else, but we are not all powerful. Clauswitz said “war is nothing but the continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.” We should continue our politics with diplomatic pressure as much as possible and resort to war as a last resort. We should choose our wars very carefully.

And our ability to project our power depends to a very large extent on the health of our economy. Our economy is also more powerful than anyone else’s. This is not the time to worry about “Fat Cats” who are doing a pretty good job of trickling wealth down to the rest of us (according to per-capita income statistics). The per-capita income of nations like France which keeps its Fat Cats on a tighter leash is not as high as ours. I fail to see that this is an issue that needs to be addressed at the present time. We are the richest nation in the world. Our per-capita income is the highest among major nations. Our economy is the strongest. Our military is the most powerful.

Lawrence Helm

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