Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Foreign Policy

Why does the United States feel the need, or even feel compelled to police the world.

I was watching Team America last night, and I have often wondered why it is both expected by nations around the world and in the same instance, frowned upon.

I wish we could just pull troops out of all other nations, but if we did this, where would that leave us? How many countries would change? How many new wars would be fought? Who would then be in the lead, in this game of Risk?

I don't necessarily think that it is in the 'greater good' for us to maintain foreign bases around the world, but is a simple pull out better?

This can also be applied to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Oddly enough, I was thinking about this same question this morning after reading an isolationist bumpersticker.

It's a very difficult moral question. To get a sense of an answer, we could make a story to "prime" our moral intuition. For example, if you saw a little old lady being attacked on the street by a man that you knew you could over-power, would you have a moral obligation to help that person?

My intuition tells me I would, but I don't have a personal moral philosophy to back it up. And I can't be sure my story is a correct analogy for an entire nation of people? Does "the United States" have a "collective obligation" to help out little old ladies being attacked and brutalized around the world? I'm not sure.

Further, where does the obligation to others begin and the obligation to ourselves end? Is there ever a time when you are not morally obligated to help the little old lady? What if you're not sure you could "take" the bully?

Egoists would argue that you never have a moral obligation to another person. That would answer all of our questions easily. But is it the correct answer? I don't think so, but I'm not sure.
I don't think I could have put it better myself.

And I think you are right -- I don't think it is the correct answer either (egoist approach). A purely selfish person can still assist someone in need, recognizing that they could be in a similar situation in the future.

The use of the government makes it most problematic because we have to justify internal coercion for some greater good of external people. In other words, at particular periods of time, the liberty of those (foreign) people is more valuable than the liberty of our own. That's tough.
I don't know that the United States "feels" the need to police the world. I think that political power holders have a need to use their power. But the Bill of Rights prohibits them from exerting this power on their own citizens, so they look without our borders for people to abuse.

Powerholders start wars to compete with other pwerholders. WWII was a war between Germany and Russia and ended in early 1941, when Germany lost at Stalingrad. The Roosevelt perpetuated the war by demanding "absolute surrender," because he had not had the opportunity to use his power.

The UK was attacked by Hitler in the 1940's. Why? Why was such an attack threatening? England had a much more powerful military, and better trained soldiers. But they were not in England. They were all over the world. In the same way, if all the expense of maintianing international bases were kept at home, along with the personel, we would be much better off, and there would be no reason to fret about terrorism or any other kind of invasion.

What empire didn't fall as a result of overextending itself?
If you don't have a moral philosophy to back up a moral action, you are merely playing god when you choose to intervene. Your will has become "the right," and the man attacking has become "the wrong." This source of moral authority is just as arbitrary as any superstitious belief.

Most ethical systems have to contrive reasons to help the victim at the expense of oneself. I appreciate the egoists' frankness in this regard. If the model we create of the world assumes survival of the fittest is right, then the little old lady must go in order to make room for the man. Each individual is responsible for defending themselves. If the little old lady has a means of disabling the man, fine. But an egoist would refuse assistance, even if it were offered to her. (c.f. Ayn Rand)

The Christ based ethic (I do not use the term Christian Ethic because no one seems to know what that is any more) says that the individual should help the little old lady because such a salvation also was provided for him. It is pure virtue, imitation, that tells the individual what to do. We protect the least of these, whether we have the ability to prevail over the evil oppressing them or not, because Jesus did the same.

To not oppose evil is to support it. (c.f. Burke)

The same ethic would likewise refuse to participate in dependace upon the state, but rather looked to a voluntary community for support.


Well, I don't know if I would characterize US involvement in the second world war as an exersize of FDR's war-making power, but that's for another thread.

But I am still not sure if you think a war waged on another's behalf can be morally justified.
I don't want to be an apologist for egoism here, but I don't think there is such a thing as "pure virtue".

Even under the 'Christ based ethic', one is acting in his own best interest to achieve heavenly reward.

Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with that. In fact, that might simply be a flaw of humanity. The best we can hope to achieve is self-serving action that also helps others.
"Even under the 'Christ based ethic', one is acting in his own best interest to achieve heavenly reward." To clarify: The Christian receives no reward for imitating Christ. The promise of heavenly reward is made unconditionally and freely. It is not dependant upon past or future behavior. To act in imitation of Christ after eternal security has already been achieved profits the individual nothing other than the of sharing in the sufferings of Christ, which is its own reward.

Can we justify making war on another's behalf? Who is this "we" fellow? Never met him. Must be related to "society."
Short answer: no. McElroy answer: It depends.
Should the US have gotten involved in WWI? No. There was no good reason for jumping into that bloodbath. It looked like fun to the powerholders though, so we went to play.
WWII as a direct consequence of unsolved problems of WWI was the same war, but we had already gotten out of it.
But what about the Jews? Shouldn't we have gotten in to save them? Is that why we got in? Was the Civil War fought over slaves? Should we have been more involved in Rwanda?
A powerholder will use any excuse to get into a war. People who think that such injustices must be fought should go themselves. Smaller militias, if they still existed, could act in such a way if they were self-sufficient. Any other rationale has other people doing your fighting for you involuntarily.
Post a Comment

<< Home
CrispAds Blog Ads

Does someone you know deserve flowers?
Web Site Hit Counter
Dell Canada

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?