Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Myth of the Better Alternative

For some reason, we believe the Myth of a Better Alternative. We believe that, if someone or something is bad, there must be a Better Alternative. We see an evil despot overseas and believe that if he were overthrown, the Better Alternative - democracy and freedom - would flower.
The problem is, of course, we don't know who will rise to power after a bad dictator is disposed. Will the new government be better? Hopefully, but it could easily be worse. We just don't know. We can't know. Removing a dictator could result in a long, bloody civil war that kills thousands of people and literally destroys the country, only to be followed by a more evil dictator.
Czar Nicholas was not the best ruler, but I think many Russians - the 20 million killed by Stalin come to mind - would have preferred the Czar to the communists.
The United States does not need to intervene everywhere in the world that has what we consider a less than optimal government. We just can't afford it. Besides, we don't know what's best for other countries. Why don't we just save thousands of our soldier's lives, trillions of dollars and let the rest of the world work out their own problems?


Anonymous said...

You are distracted, aren't you?

Question 1: In what year did the US invade Russia?

Question 2: What is the difference between Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons on Iraqi citizens deep in Iraqui territory and and Bashar al-Assad using them on Syrian citizens within breathing distance of Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and/or Jordan?

Question 3: What is the comparative cost, in dollars per watt, between natural gas power plants, photovoltaic solar arrays, and nuclear power plants? What is the economic rationale for enriching uranium for peaceful purposes?

The US was isolationist in the mid-20th Century. Countries like Britain and France did nothing when Japan invaded China and Korea, Italy invaded Ethiopia, and Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.

Prior to these foreign adventures, these countries were in the habit of persecuting minorites and competing power bases within their own borders. Often this created the political foundations for attempts at creating greater 'co-prosperity spheres'. Under what circumstances and at what point should the world community become involved?

Mitch Fincher said...

Hi Meredith,
Thanks for reposting at the original site - I'm not sure all the .Net crowd is interested in this discussion - although they should be. Let's discuss your points one at a time.
1. The US and Allies invaded Russia in 1918 on the side of the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. We eventually lost the battle and evacuated our troops. I don't know the cost or the number of deaths on the failed attempt to change the regime. What can we learn from this?

Anonymous said...

One of the new 'free' rags running around is the 'right wing' answer to the 'Chronicle'. It makes about is much sense, which is, almost none whatsoever. It goes long on conspiracies relating to why the US Government wants to be at war with someone at all times.

Much of the time the people that run countries think with their gonads. We're seeing that right now with China/Japan, South Korea/Japan, Iran, China/countries on the South China Sea, etc. This was particularly bad in the US from Truman to Nixon, with the exception of Eisenhower. It makes the idea of conspiracy hard to take. It also makes asking for intelligent behavior on the part of voters, particularly in a media saturated environment, particularly nihilistic.

However, when I read something that gets me riled up I write a response to it somewhere, whether that's a good idea or not. It is good to air one's thoughts once in awhile.