.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Democracy and War Against Terrorism

Democratic nations -- and I mean nations where the people are sovereign -- face a paradox regarding a war on terrorism. On one hand, democratic nations function best in peace. On the other hand, when democratic nations go to war to defend peace they generally erode their democratic values. For example, conscription even wrapped up in flag is undemocratic.

Perhaps, democratic nations can be effective at war if they war infrequently and limit themselves to short and inexpensive wars.

My thought is that the people don't like war and particularly don't like long and costly wars. First, the people really don't like wars that are not short. Can anyone remember a short, unpopular war? Grenada? Panama? The war on terrorism, as President George Bush has reported, is going to be a long war. Second, the people don't like wars that are costly --either in death of soldiers or in money. The people will stop backing the war when it has gone on too long and is too expensive.

Another useful comparison is the decades-long war on drug suppliers in places like Columbia. This war has been going on forever. But, it is fairly cheap. If the costs of the war on terror could resemble the costs of the war on drug suppliers, the war on terror may be around for a long time.

Otherwise, the United States will soon be at a crossroads. How much are we willing to spend to track down and stop these terrorists? I don't have the answer to that question. But, I believe our willingness to spend may decrease as the horrific events of 9/11 recede in our memories.

Blogger Sloanasaurus said...

Of course the question to be asked to your post is what then constitutes a long and costly war? Certainly the U.S. Civil war was costly - approximately 500,000 deaths on both sides in some 4 years of fighting. That is an average of over 300 per day in a country almost 1/8th the size of the current population. (Extrapolated to today's population that would be 2400 per day). World War II averaged about 250 per day, while World War I had about 300 per day in only 1 year. IN Vietnam, the average was about 15 per day. The costs World War II was more than 1.5 GDP. The Civil War was probably more. Vietnam was significantly less.

In statistical comparisons, the war in Iraq is not costly. In terms of media coverage, however, the war in Iraq is indeed a long and costly war. Do most people feel the war personally as people did in the Civil War and World War II. Do people in general "feel" the cost of the war, or is it just really a media event for them.... I would argue the latter.

8:22 AM, November 22, 2004  

Post a Comment