Friday, June 5, 2009

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

This past week I had a political chat with one of my buddies on the golf course. He happens to be a left winger, but we both love sports and love playing golf. I queried him about his opinion on Iraq. He strongly supports the withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq, and yet strongly believes that the country will descend into a chaotic civil war when they do. This presented a curious contradiction. If you are cheering for the withdrawal and believe the country will go out in flames if they do, are you then cheering for the country to descend into anarchy? He could not answer.

After the 10th green, we started talking about Africa and the countries that are messed up because they are led by megalomaniacs. We both agreed on the crazy leaders who need to go, such as Mugabe. I said that the Bono/Geldoff model applied over the last 20 years has not worked, and he agreed. I proceeded to ask whether we should put together a military force of African membership to take out the megalomaniacs, and he disagreed. To him the best solution was that we strangle them with sanctions, even if millions of their citizens die of starvation. Force innocents to suffer for a longer period time rather than embark on a quick action to remove the cancer.

It was an agreeable conversation, but to me illustrated a contradiction on the left. They advocate a position that will increase suffering in the name of suffrage. Sanctions are more likely to punish the vulnerable than those in power. Dumping aid on an unstable continent does little if anything to help the needy. And yet, leaving the crazies in power leads to more pain and suffering. This then begs the question, if military force is not to be used, what on earth can help alleviate these desperate situations all over the world that both on the right and left agree is detrimental? I don't know the answer.

“An idealist is a person who helps other people to be prosperous.”

-Henry Ford

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