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October 04, 2004

The Kerry Doctrine

Mark Kleiman argues convincingly that i) Kerry needs a Doctrine; and ii) This is it:

Defend the country. Promote freedom. Pay attention to the facts. Listen to the experts. Make sure your buddies have your back. Plan for victory. Tell the truth.

[Via Brad DeLong.]

For the record, I believe that every single act of violence must past a global test--not just wars or acts of political violence. The test is simple: Would that this were a universal maxim? Howard Dean was pilloried for stating the obvious, that America won't always be the most powerful nation in the world. In this context, the charitable interpretation of always is something like "necessarily." We can all imagine a world in which America wouldn't be the most powerful nation, regardless of our political or historical orientation.

We should strive to make the kind of decisions that we Americans would approve of regardless of our military or economic might. Kleiman's formulation of the Kerry Doctrine passes the test with flying colors.

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Comments

Whoa, slow down with that crazy deontological worldview. You're making my head spin. Yikes. Enough of that stuff and there won't be any more wars or war profiteering, and then where would we be?

Yeah, yeah. And the base (N=3) will give me grief about reconstructing my heretofore unreconstructed Benthamism.

Move along folks, nothing to see here.

I didn't realize this was a Kantian blog! I shall not read it anymore.

But wait, maybe it's a Sartrean blog ("And, when we say that man is responsible for himself, we do not mean that he is responsible only for his own individuality, but that he is responsible for all men," and all that). OK, I can still read it.

Then you get almost Rawlsian with the part about considering the fact that we won't always be the most powerful nation in the world (sort of the nation-level Original Position).

Anyway, I like the sentiment. It's just that international situations like Iraq are so messy, it's hard to imagine the depth of reasoning that would go into trying to imagine a particular course of action as a universal maxim. I would say that this is the reason we have people smarter than myself running the government, but then I remember who the president is. Instead, here's the sort of consideration I would advocate for any act of violence, and acts of violence perpetrated by nations in particular: is there any non-violent course of action that could acheive the same or equivalent desired effects?

Defend the country. Promote freedom. Pay attention to the facts. Listen to the experts. Make sure your buddies have your back. Plan for victory. Tell the truth.

Too long by half, at least as something to sell to America in the next month. It may make a good doctrine, but it needs a sound bite to hook it onto. May I suggest:

This fight is not "America against the world", it's "the world against the terrorists".

Good one, Nick. Catchy.

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