"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, March 6, 2014

No Option C

Jim Geraghty in NRO makes an important point, not just about foreign affairs, but about reality generally:

Dear World beyond Our Borders, 
These are your choices:
A. A world where the United States government and its military, supplied by corporations you find distasteful, responds to aggression and provocations through shows of force and military interventions. These interventions — sometimes on a large scale and sometimes on a small scale — inflict regrettable but inevitable collateral damage on civilians. These actions are ones that in the past you have labeled “imperialist” and “aggressive” and that prompt you to lament that the world is being run by “cowboys” and — the post-millennial all-purpose pejorative label — “neocons.”  
B. A world where the United States government and its military do not respond this way, and disputes about territory, ideology, and power beyond our borders are hashed out by the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, the Pakistanis, the Saudis, various jihadist factions (including those so violent and bloodthirsty that not even al-Qaeda wants to be associated with them), terror-for-hire groups like the Haqqani network, and anyone else who wants in on the brawl.
Pick one. There is no “Option C” where the United Nations suddenly becomes an effective, respected peacekeeping force. There is no “Option D” where the world’s strong men and brutes are talked into taking up yoga and become calm, mellow guys, eager to hug it out. 
The death toll is much, much higher under option B. But that’s your call. Maybe you’re okay with that.

Liberals always imagine that there is an option C or option D, which always involves an imagined world where there aren't real tradeoffs between supposed "goods."    You can have a strong and assertive American military or you can have a whole lot of chaos and violence in the world.   You can't have a weak America and peace abroad.   There are tradeoffs.   This is reality.

Don't like the potential environmental impact of fracking?   The tradoff is higher gas prices.

Don't like DDT?   The tradeoff is more malaria.

Don't like genetically engineered fruits and vegetables, or cows fed with BGH?   The tradeoff is higher food prices and/or less food available for poor people.

Don't like traditional morality and traditional family structures?   The tradeoff is AIDS and syphilis and gonorrhea and abortion abbatoirs and abandoned and neglected children and cycles of poverty.

We think we can avoid tradeoffs because our world is so clean and easy and safe.   We get up, we go to work, we go to the store, we come home, we cook our meals, we watch our TV, we go to bed.   then we get up and do it again.  

But a lot of the rest of the world looks like this:

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