Re: War Support Ebbs

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 09:54:04 MST wrote:
> Brian,
> Thank you very much. I have also traveled abroad and listened
> closely to foreign sources explain "America."
> Have you ever noticed that most of the criticism comes down to
> "Why won't you Americans look out for our interests not your own?" For
> that we get called "unsophisticated."
> Ron h.

This sounds like a perfectly legitimate criticism to me. We're a big
honkin' superpower with the world's most powerful economy (still), not to
mention nuclear weapons. How much looking after do American interests

America has decided to play global policeman. A police officer may
receive a salary for services rendered, but the job is to look out for the
community's interests, hopefully as defined by the just laws of a
democratic government. If America is projecting all this military force
abroad to look out for her own interests, then America is playing global
bully, not global policeman, and the other countries should band together
to oppose her, as villagers once banded together to oppose roving bandits.

Well, America isn't projecting all this force to look out for her own
interests. America has decided to play global policeman, and more or less
lived up to it. But we have to go on living up to our own declared
principles - whether or not anyone else gives us credit for it, if it
comes down to that. So if someone claims that America is abusing her
position as global policeman to promote America's interest at the expense
of the global community, it's a real accusation; if correct, it's a real
problem. Personally I think that America has been doing astonishingly
well for a global police officer with no global police supervisor, no
global police chief, no global office of internal affairs, and no global
legislature. But that isn't an excuse for tolerating the remaining flaws.

Above all, I think that America's choice to play global policeman, and
success in doing so more or less ethically, is a glorious triumph - a
precious, fragile, and potentially transient triumph, like democracy or
civil liberties. So I am perturbed when I hear someone say that we should
just throw that away and start looking out after our own interests.
America *has* managed to look out for everyone else's interests and we
need to go on doing so.

Besides, this isn't the 19th century. This is the age of nuclear
weapons. America's primary, overshadowing global interest is the
continuing stability of the world and the nonuse of weapons of mass
destruction. If shortsighted opportunism interferes with this, America's
*real* global interest, then shortsighted opportunism can take a hike.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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