Defending the mostly good
Posted by aogSaturday, 15 May 2004 at 10:25 TrackBack Ping URL

I was going to make a point about undersupplied troops but Winds of Change beat me to it. While it’s a problem that we don’t have enough body armor or armored Humvees in Iraq, it’s never been the case that armies in the field have everything that’s desirable. Certainly WWII was filled with examples of bad or inadequate equipment. Modern shortages tend to obscure the fantastic gains for the troops. One need only compare even unarmored Humvees to the Jeeps they replaced.

This issue is another example of the quandry faced by open societies in the face of imperfection. When things go wrong, as they always do, it’s easy for the wreckers to sieze on that. How can the defenders respond? A fine line must be taken that accepts the problem, points out that the overall picture is positive without slipping into rose colored glasses. The greatest problem isn’t the cynics but the utopians who compare things not to possible alternatives but to an imagined realm of perfection.

This is why it’s important to call the utopians on their schemes and ask what the alternative is. Frequently this will stump them and when it doesn’t you generally get some kind of plan that’s so obviously delusional like turning over Iraq to the UN despite its record of horrific failure. That’s how you expose con-men.