2007/09/28

"We need to do something ..."


I've had many discussions in the past years with very divergent opinions. One constant that I observed was that I often didn't disagree with ideology, assumptions and the like ... I disagreed because I wasn't compelled "to do something". I simply don't have the feeling that something needs to be done just because I dislike the situation.
It's quite impossible to convince me that "something needs to be done" unless I recognize an improvement of the situation as likely result of the proposed action.

A good example is the campaign against terrorism.
Somebody proposes a counter-measure, I disagree because I don't see proportionality of advantages and disadvantages.
Now I can take the stopwatch and measure how long it takes till somebody accuses me to ignore a threat, help terrorists, sabotage counter-terrorism efforts and so on.
Many people don't weigh advantages and disadvantages at all. They're proponents of ANY action if a situation is inconvenient for them.

Another example shows the mentality in its devastating effect: Incompetent (concerning art of war) politicians and journalists called for the NATO air forces to put more pressure on Milosevic and to stop ethnic cleansing during the Kosovo Air War 1999. Well, this was impossible due to the limitations inherent in air power. That is, unless you don't stick to relevant targets and just begin a nation-wide stampede against any target that might remotely be labelled as relevant for warfare. Bridges in Northern Serbia did certainly not help para-military forces in Kosovo (south of Serbia) to expel Kosovars...
The impatience resulted in much more destruction than necessary - strategies with marginal destruction but decisive impact like shutting down electricity in whole Serbia until it accepts certain conditions became impossible options. Not enough patience, "something had to be done".
The Kosovo Air War became a historical low point in air warfare strategy, covered up by eventual political success.

We need to learn to accept inconvenient situations and need to become more patient. It is ridiculous to assume that an improvement of every inconvenient situation is within our powers.
Just as the Christian teachings tell us - sometimes it's better to offer the other cheek as well. Especially if every imaginable offensive action only worsens the situation in comparison to that.

This "we need to do something" mentality is in my opinion a demonstration of a lack of self-discipline, rational thinking and patience. It hurts us as it wastes resources and draws us into needless conflicts

S O
 

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