Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.S. urges U.N. to take military action against Libya

In the Los Angeles Times today, a story was printed about the United States urging the United Nations to get involved in the Libyan Civil War.

Full Story Here by Paul Richter

Proposals for a no-fly zone or other military action have faced strong resistance in recent weeks from traditional U.S. allies, such as Germany, as well as Russia and China. But council members have grown increasingly worried about a humanitarian disaster in Benghazi, and now some U.S. officials are privately expressing confidence that they could win the resolution.

I worry about this. Now, I have no qualms about a country delivering humanitarian aid to a war-stricken nation. I also see no problem with a country aiding one side in a war if that war was just (for instance, defending against genocide). However, I worry about the morality of nation-building. How involved will the effort be? Will these international forces simply aid the rebels in defeating this menace, or will they stick around and force democracy on the people who may not want it?

The easiest response would be that we should at least provide a no-fly zone. But even that is not so easy. Enforcing a no-fly zone requires the use of force. What happens if a US plane gets shot down, or we have to shoot down a Libyan aircraft? At that point, then, it is essentially no different than a full-scale war. Creating a no-fly zone is a roll of the dice, but should we take that chance?

Some have argued that we have nothing to gain by invading Libya. I agree that is true, and I am fine with people having reservations about going to war with the country. However, in this case, I also see attacking the country as justified. We would not be doing this in order to personally gain, we would be doing it to help the people who are being slaughtered. It would be a police action. A perfect corollary would be a mugging. If someone witnessed a mugging, would we blame that person for stepping in and stopping the mugger? And would we blame that person for not doing anything about the situation? Besides telling the authorities, what responsibility should that person have? He would risk his life to help the person being mugged. There is no moral necessity to risk our life to save the person. It would be better to help the person, but it is not wrong to get away from the dangerous situation either.

In the end, I just do not trust these police-actions. We lost many soldiers in Korea and Vietnam, and look at what happened anyway. And in the cases where we have gone all the way and tried to nation-build, the process has been wrought with issues. I just do not see a good end to the situation. Invading would be morally justified, but we are not morally impelled to do so.

Toppling a dictator is the easy part, what to do after is where the real problems begin.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why is the US not Growing as Fast as it has?

A sense of complacency has fallen upon most Americans. The drive to be the best and advance has been replaced with a selfish attitude. People no longer ask what we can do to benefit this world. Rather, many Americans ask why other people have so much and decry it as unfair. Has this thought hurt us? What has this paradigm shift resulted in?

Welfare and social safety nets gained prevalence around the turn of the 20th century. Before that, those social issues were handled voluntarily. Not only that, but the federal government tended to do very little when it came to recessions. The typical response was to decrease the burden of government by decreasing spending and decreasing taxation. In comes Herbert Hoover and that all changes (though much can be said for the influence of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson). He increases government spending to respond to the recession. Eventually, he even institutes public work programs to help the unemployed. Franklin Roosevelt continued the tradition and it ultimately resulted in years of Depression.

Some say that our economy has become more stable because of this control. They even say that spending money on the poor helps our economy. They will point to GDP, but this is a flawed measure because it says that government spending is as efficient as private spending, when obviously it is not. How much did the pyramids cost and how much benefit did it bring to the typical Egyptian? The United States became the leading economic power of the world during the Gilded Age; that is, the late 1800s. This country went from being a third world country to the leader of the free world in an age without government interventions and federal monetary policy. Yet supposedly it is necessary? Where is the evidence?

It was capitalism that brought us the prosperity that we know today. And this was even with relatively open boarders. Coordinated monetary policy apparently was not necessary. Immigration quotas apparently were not necessary. High taxation was not necessary. The FDA and SEC were not necessary. There are many programs and institutions that were not around when the US outgrew the rest of the world; these things are all inventions of the post-prosperity milieu. In a more brutally honest description, these are the demands of the spoiled children who do not realize that it was freedom, not mommy and daddy, who lead this country to be the preeminent superpower that it is.