The usual strategy in this Blog is to wait until the recent, important event is old and all public interest is lost, before I comment on it.
This is not because I abhor of readership, but because I feel that in order to say an intelligent thing about a subject, I need time to contemplate. This time I did the contemplation before it happened. So I am about to do my thing while the wikileaks scandal is still raging. Here are my 2 cents. And I will start with the sound-byte:
19 year-old boys are not adults. Give these boys weapons (the ultimate in big-boom-generating toys), train them to kill, and send them on to a conflict-ridden zone. Now, guess: what they will do there?
If you even imagine that they will do anything other than killing, then you’re a damn fool.
The army is not the problem. It is simply not the solution. You can’t expect a bunch of kids with big guns to build a nation state. Nor should you send them on to do serious police work. It is not their job, it is not their expertise. You train them to fight a war, send them out to face an enemy, and they find themselves in the middle of civilian population. Anyone seriously suggesting that no atrocities will ensue is either a god-damn lier, or pathologically stupid.
Let me repeat myself, at the risk of being crude:
An army is not a peace-keeping force. It is a fighting force.
I’m not quite sure that I like the idea of a direct democracy. But here is a small thought in favor:
Nancy Goldstein, down at the Washington Post, has a piece about the race for senate in Delaware, where she claims for the underdog. There are two candidates in Delaware. One seems like an experienced, rational, thoughtful, man. The other is a disgruntled, confused, and quite wacky, woman (But, no, this is not a gender issue!). Whom would you choose? Nancy Goldstein chooses the wacky girl, which is the one easier to identify with. The rational man is too arrogant. Too know-it-all. Most of all, he is not in need of your sympathy, so he doesn’t get it. Christine O’Donnell, the Tea Party candidate in Delaware, was more human – erring, confused, stressed. It stands in her favor in the debate, though the magic is less likely to actually help her win the race.
This is not new stuff. Those who know ancient Greek history should be reminded of Aristides and Themistocles. The others would do well to recall the surprising success of extreme politics throughout the 20th century. It should also remind you of what happens on shows like American Idol, where professionals have meager chance of winning. It is always the not-so-perfect girl-next-door who wins, seemingly “against all odds” – but very likely because she is not so annoyingly perfect. Or have a look at this fact: poll after poll shows that the Israeli public is mostly moderate, but abhors of moderate politicians. A majority wants good policy, but they want it delivered by flawed politicians.
So, if the public is much better at choosing policies than it is in choosing policy-makers, then perhaps, if we let the public choose the policies instead of the policy makers, we will enjoy better policies.