Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Moral Dilemma

I've been alternatively too busy or too lazy to blog lately, but a recent e-mail has me thinking. If someone would tell you right now that we could in the next 5 years:
  • Remove Ahmadenijad from power in Iran;
  • Establish a democratic government in its place;
  • Have over 2/3 of the country participating in national elections;
  • Have a somewhat unstable, but growing economy that allowed for a much better lifestyle than currently exists;
  • Perhaps bring down gas prices somewhat;
  • Reduce the risk of terror attacks within the United States;
  • Overall reduction in [other] worldwide terror, but increase in terror in Iran;
  • Dramatically hurt Palestinian terrorist groups, particularly in terms of funding;
  • and perhaps more...
but it would cost the lives of about 3,000 US soldiers and $500 billion, would you still do it? Would you need all of those factors, or would only some be enough?


  1. I don't think these things, even all together, come at all close to the value of one human life, let alone 3,000. So, no. I am also no good at politics. :)

  2. I do not think so. I think the only reason the US should go to war is to protect itself. It is not worth risking your own children just to be the worlds policeman.

  3. The premise is that we could know precisely, going in, what the casualties and costs would be. This is impossible, although at best some ballpark estimate could be attempted.

    The real questions relate to the imminent level of threat to our national security, the likelihood that no other measures would remove or aubstantially reduce the threat, the likelihood and type of side-effects from our engagement, and the President's ability to get financial and moral support from Congress and the citizens.

    If doing nothing is not demonstrably dangerous enough to the US itself, no one would be able to take this action.

    As you can see, these are all similar to the considerations that led to our present war in Iraq.

    Now that the Democratic Party leadership and associated media have shown themselves to be more sympathetic to the enemy than to the administration---to the point that they regard possible victory in Iraq as a problem!--- the chances of getting the necessary support for other ventures have diminished.

  4. s/b "substantially" above

  5. I assume you're attempting a parallel with Iraq, in which case I take issue with a few of your statements:

    Establish a democratic government in its place

    Worthless if the government is impotent.

    Have over 2/3 of the country participating in national elections

    Focusing on this kind of indirect metric for what we really want to know -- is democracy working -- is simply dishonest. 2/3s of the country may have participated in a single election, but that doesn't imply that there's a functional democracy.

    Overall reduction in [other] worldwide terror, but increase in terror in Iran;

    The Iraq war has increased worldwide terror, so I don't know where you're coming from here.

    Dramatically hurt Palestinian terrorist groups, particularly in terms of funding;

    There have got to be easier ways to do this than to conquer and remake an entire country.

    Finally, Iran is a much more formidable foe (militarily) than Iraq was.

    To answer your question, though, if all of those things happened (and if the actual things that the BS metrics pretend to be actually happened) I'd say it's worth it for sure. But we can't predict the future and the future you propose is so improbable that it would be reckless to try it, particularly after the Iraq debacle.

  6. Why do you assume that life in Iran is so bad? Its actually a pretty western country with a comfortable middle class. We like to assume that all countries that we disagree with must be miserable places to live, but thats not true. Now things are peasefula nd most people are ok. If we attack all that will go to hell and no one will be happy, at least not for many years.

  7. You, letting up on your blogging, wow!
    It's nice to take a break.