Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Two Questions

In the comment section on my letter to a friend, Andrea asked two good questions which essentially boil down to

1) Why is sovereignty bad for Minnesota but good for the United States?

2) What are we going to do when China will become an economic and technological power and will choose to exercise it? Complain like some European countries do now? That is, (now Chris is using his own words) isn't what we are doing now going to hurt us later when China (or Russia) assert the same rights we are asserting when it comes to defending ourselves against perceived threats?

1) Sovereignty: There are advantages and disadvantages to a group of countries banding together and giving up individual sovereignty and essentially becoming one country. National defense becomes easier for instance. The basic disadvantage is you lose, well, sovereignty. Those other people now can tell you what to do. Thus whether it is a good idea depends on the likelihood you will agree with them in the future. If those "other people" would in the end very likely make the same decisions as you in the likely future scenarios, then there is little cost to giving up sovereignty. I would not have much of a problem giving up American sovereignty and joining Europeans in some sort of joint defense agreement if I thought Europeans were close to Americans in terms of what was worth fighting for. But I don't think that, so the last thing I want to do is give them a voice over how we use our military.

2) Blowback: Now that we've asserted our right to preemption, what's to stop China and Russia from doing the same? My answer: Exactly what has stopped them up to now. Absolutely nothing. China and Russia look out for China and Russia. Always have and always will. Now it is possible, theoretically, for preemption to be ruled out based on the following beliefs: no large country preempts because it believes if it does so, then all other countries will preempt in the future when they wish to. If the gain to all large countries to preempting now is less than the loss associated with all other large powers preempting from now on, then it may make sense not to preempt, even if the countries short term interests call for it. To be specific, one cost of invading Iraq could be that before we invaded, China believed that if it invaded Mongolia, then we would feel free to invade whoever we wanted. Now that we have invaded Iraq, China believes we feel free to invade whoever we want regardless of whether they invade Mongolia. Thus, assuming they don't like us invading places, we have removed one of the costs to them of invading Mongolia and thus have made it more likely. I agree that this is theoretically tight. I just don't agree that this is plausible.