Friday, November 04, 2005

Andrew's Request

Frank Warner has a post giving advice to a college freshman who wants to prove that the wars of the past were all mistakes. There are a lot of great comments, by Nicholas in particular. I left a comment which I'll post here as well:

Andrew,

The Great Depression of the 1930's was a grim calamity that could have been avoided if Alan Greenspan had been in charge. I'm not kidding. Economic thinking has developed to the point that we don't go through the same suffering that we used to endure at the end of every business cycle. Modern economists know enough, maybe just enough, to protect us.

War can be addressed by the same intellectual approach. The architects of MAD in the 50's and 60's protected us, and everyone else, from nuclear destruction. They have received scant thanks for that effort, mainly because people, like yourself, still think they were wrong. The only cure for war is strength. Strength means foresight, planning and the wise allocation of resources. Strength, in a free state, is gained by the application of sound scientific, technical, commercial, diplomatic and moral processes. In other words, the grownups are paying attention. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they seem to make mistakes.

What matters most is what the leaders of your country really want. Over time it will come to pass. One of my heroes is Mikhail Gorbachev, who brought down the Soviet Union from inside as peacefully as it could possibly be done. And it needed to be done. Leaders like Saddam, Ahmadinejad, Castro and Hugo Chavez, desire only power and self-aggrandizement. Sacrifice of their citizens carries no moral weight to them. When people like that are in charge of entire nations, expect war.

If you want to end war, you need to study it. Study it as deeply as Milton Friedman studied the role of money in our economy. You might consider reading anything by John Keegan. Avoid those who merely want to assign blame. If you would rather indulge in wishful thinking about our violent past, you might consider reading fantasy and science fiction.

11/4/2005 1:26 PM

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