Kilroy Was Here
February 15, 2003
Zen and the Art of Geo-Politics
The impending War in Iraq has had me wondering about the best course of action. Of course, I believe that Sadaam is a bad guy. But on the other hand, I don't necessarily believe that military force is the most effective way to deal with him (or with any other tyrant.)
Recently, I’ve been giving considerable thought to the fundamental advantages of well-functioning democracies over other forms of government: non-violent transfer of power.
While other types of governments may be more effective in the sort term (see Singapore), these governments ultimately rest upon the personality of their ruling class. The weakest link in these types of governments is the frailty of the human body and mind.
Thus, whenever debilitating illness or death stalks these governments, the entire system is pushed to the brink of violence and overthrow.
Western-style democracies, by contrast, go through transitions of power easily, rarely provoking revolution, coup, or civil war.
Given that Western-style democracies can easily outlast petty tyrannies, dictatorships, and oligarchies, wouldn’t long-term policies of containment and aid make be more secure and more effective than the short-sighted war, invasion, and empire being considered by the United States government today?
In more blunt words, shouldn’t we do our best to aid the people of Iraq while we wait for Saddam to die of old age or coup?
I’m reminded of America’s own Civil War, where we rose up in arms against each other over the dying idea of slavery. Even though I admire the bravery of those soldiers who fought for the Union and for emancipation, I can’t help but think of the waste.
Most of the other Western democracies of the time were able to shed their slavery habit without losing so many lives. For the British, slavery is just a footnote; a bad habit they grew out of. America, on the other hand, still suffers from the fissures of our Civil War today.
In the end, I feel that the Iraq conflict is based upon the mistaken fears of the near future, and neglects our long term advantage. Because of our impatience and desire to immediately solve problems we see, we are provoking a period of bloodshed whose ripples will echo for the next generation.
In the end, maybe we should learn that sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing.
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