Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Calculus of War

Are proactive or reactive? Your view will likely determine your foreign policy vote on Election Day. The Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive action in the face of a terrorist threat contrasts with Kerry's vow to meet any attack on our soil with a swift, sure response. Kerry also proposes that any American action overseas meet a "global test." One need only to look at what is happening and not happening in Darfur, Sudan to understand the consequences of this stance. Belmont Club also makes the candidates' differences clear:

The "Global Test" standard is likely to raise more questions than it answers because it is a threshold without a real specification, a probability without degree. It is analytically defective because the degree of risk one is willing to endure depends on the severity of the consequences. Most people would accept a one in six chance of losing $10 at a game of cards yet refuse the same odds at Russian roulette. The proof needed to pass a "Global Test" before preempting a suspected terrorist attack will depend on whether the threat is a gun or a suitcase nuclear bomb, and is therefore not global at all. Yet standards do have a value in this context, provided they are not the pseudo-absolute ones implied by a "Global Test". It is the test of reasonable action in the face of the best available information, the standard on which Eisenhower decided to launch Overlord in the middle of an Atlantic storm or which impelled Spruance to proceed to Point Luck in defense of Midway in ignorance of the exact whereabouts of the Japanese Fleet. It is no guaranty against mistakes. But it is a guaranty against paralysis.


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