Re: Hanson antiproliferation method?

Eric Watt Forste (
Thu, 21 Aug 1997 16:22:26 -0700

Nicholas Bostrom writes:
> UN has terminated the shooting in Bosnia, and there is some hope
> that the peace will hold, though a shortage of resources might
> force a withdrawal of the Nato troops next year. There are several
> other examples of successful UN peace keeping missons (and some of
> failed ones), but this is still a rather new phenomenon and learning
> is still in progress, so I think there is room for hope, especially
> if the UN is given adequate funding.

UN committed genocide against the Bosnian Muslims by enforcing an
arms embargo against Yugoslavia at a time when most of the organized
Yugoslavian armed forces, and almost all of their materiel, was in
Serbian hands. You credit them with stopping, three years later,
a bloodbath that they (inadvertently?) laid the groundwork for.
Aided and abetted by the United States, of course.

> Small potatoes!.

A green plague of ten different high-latency fatal strains of
virus will be quite useful to small potatoes terrorists. I
don't think the size of the potatoes is at issue here. Small
potatoes can be quite deadly, especially nowadays.

> UN itself would not need to be impartial (though it would presumably
> be much less partial that the parts that are fighting), it would
> only need to implement the decisions of some independent tribunal.

I still don't understand why you think that "world government"
or transferring more power from the current nations to the UN
would increase the likelihood that large civil disputes would
be settled by the decisions of an independent tribunal. If the
disputants don't accept the decisions of the tribunal (and they
often don't) what is the difference from the current situation?
These sorts of things come down to primates and their will to
fight, their reasons for fighting, and the extreme difficulty
of communication, as both a transmitting and a measuring
process. Implementing an accounting change at the top-level has
many dangers of its own, and furthermore, does little or
nothing to address the dangers that you're worrying about. The
proposals you are making, it seems to me, would simply pile new
dangers on top of the existing dangers.

> The future is frightening, be brave.

Cowardice is not the motivation behind my arguments, I
assure you. I mentioned fears only because your proposals were
set forth in the name of allaying fears of military

> By real power I mean the power they have in the world as opposed
> to the power they have within the present UN. I don't have any
> specific proposals for how to measure it, but I think a UN is less
> likely to function well if some nations perceive that they are
> underrepresented. (A rough measure of real power would be GNP.)

Ah, there's the rub. It is less likely to function well if some
nations perceive that they are underrepresented. And I can
guarantee you that some of them will perceive that, no matter
what you do.

Military troubles are worst in the poorest nations. Allocating
political power by GNP will do almost nothing to soothe these
troubles. Better to keep poor countries and rich countries politically
decoupled from one another. What you are proposing is to arrange
for the rich countries to rule the poor countries (that's what your
"representation according to 'real' power seems to come down to),
which I guarantee will lead to war. It's been tried already.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd