View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Speaking Truth to (Nuclear) Power

Jared has a fine explanation of why we shouldn't be fooled by Kim. Why we would allow ourselves to be fooled by any bad guys at this point is beyond me. Individuals such as he, Quaddhafi, the Mullahs, Robert Mugabe are so obviously corrupt and evil.

The genius of the American system is that it boxes its leaders into institutions. Those institutions need to allow for individual initiative and success, without becoming the exclusive tools of a few individials. We want neither the Western Front, 1915-1917, nor Napolean charging through Russia. People develop loyalty to the prerogatives of their institutions; even Republican Congressmen will resent a Republican President's usurpation of his privileges. None of these countries has anything even remotely resembling effective independent non-government institutions, never mind independent courts or legislatures.

They're not a prerequisite for our trust, or for an effective short-term alliance. But in a system without these restraining forces, the way to the top is usually with a gun. Not all dictators acquire a taste for making international trouble. Many Latin American generals came and went in an era of relative international peace. But the temptation is to blame your next-door neighbor Wilson, because isn't it spooky that you can't see his face, when things go south, and they always go south. Once they've opened that can of worms, the only box they should be kept in is pine with handles.

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