Imperialism: The Illogical Nature of “Humanitarian” Wars

Dr Delacroix is simply unable to grasp my argument. There are two possible reasons for this:

  1. He simply does not want to grasp it
  2. He simply cannot grasp it

Most of the time I believe that Reason #1 is responsible for one’s inability to grasp a concept, at least when we are dealing with high intelligence individuals like Dr Delacroix.

But I think this is a case where Dr Delacroix and other like-minded imperialists simply cannot grasp the logic behind my argument. Allow me to hearken readers back to my recent post on “Libertarian IQ” where I quote an academic computer programmer on the inability of some students to grasp the concepts he is trying to teach:

Let me tell a story that is typical of those I heard from the TAs who worked for me at the computing center. A student comes up to the TA and says that his program isn’t working. The numbers it prints out are all wrong. The first number is twice what it should be, the second is four times what it should be, and the others are even more screwed up. The student says, “Maybe I should divide this first number by 2 and the second by 4. That would help, right?” No, it wouldn’t, the TA explains. The problem is not in the printing routine. The problem is with the calculating routine. Modifying the printing routine will produce a program with TWO problems rather than one […]

The student in my hypothetical story displays the classic mistake of treating symptoms rather than solving problems. The student knows the program doesn’t work, so he tries to find a way to make it appear to work a little better. As in my example, without a proper model of computation, such fixes are likely to make the program worse rather than better. How can the student fix his program if he can’t reason in his head about what it is supposed to do versus what it is actually doing? He can’t.

Dr Delacroix is in a position similar to that of the student.

When I point out that the post-colonial states of the Middle East are, by their very structure, incapable of anything other than autocracy, he responds by pointing out that the West has often taken sides in the various conflicts that erupt in these states. The logic behind this reasoning follows accordingly:

Brandon: This hot dog is undercooked, so eating it will make me sick.

Dr Delacroix: Yes, but it has chili on it.

B: No dude, eating it will make me sick.

DD: Yes, but it also has brown mustard on it.

B: I’m sorry dude, but I’m not eating the hot dog.

DD: Now you’re just being senseless (and rude!).

You see how that works?

Dr Delacroix and other “humanitarian” imperialists seem to believe that when the West picks a side in a conflict that has nothing to do with national security, imperialism suddenly becomes a perfectly acceptable way of fixing the problems of the world. Yet just like the programming student in the example above, Dr Delacroix’s attempts to fix a superficial problem (with bombs no less) actually end up exacerbating the real, underlying problem, which is that the states currently in place in most of the world are not seen as legitimate by its “citizens.”

Post-colonial states are not considered legitimate by their subjects because they never had a say in how to go about structuring such a state. They had no say in where the borders should be, or who they could trade with, or how to best accommodate foreigners.

Because they are not legitimate, power struggles (even in long-lived dictatorships) for the center are constant since those who eventually end up controlling the center receive legitimacy from the UN and other imperial institutions (but not their own people). Why bother trying to gain the legitimacy of an impoverished populace when you can simply capture the rent associated with running a post-colonial state?

11 thoughts on “Imperialism: The Illogical Nature of “Humanitarian” Wars

  1. Irregardless of the government that we’re talking about, one constant explains it all; by these leaders failure to properly address intellectual argumentation in pertinence to their inaction, they enable themselves unabated in their course to stall and destroy us “little men of big ideas!”

  2. […] This reminds me, mostly, of debates about the illogicality of more federal gun control laws or using American military power to intervene in a foreign conflict that has nothing to do with national security (see, on this last point, my recent post “Imperialism: The Illogical Nature of Humanitarian Wars“). […]

  3. […] The US should embrace political disintegration in Levant wholeheartedly. Doing so would mean recognizing sovereignty of nasty-looking regimes. Yet is would also end the power struggles for the “center” in Sykes-Picot states, which would in turn end the reign of strong men in the region for good (for a concise explanation on why strong men emerge in post-colonial states, see “Imperialism: The Illogical Nature of Humanitarian Wars“). […]

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