The Limits Of Our Knowledge

Freddie DeBoer argues that a "colossal, almost impossible arrogance underpins all interventionist logic":

What interventionists ask of us, constantly, is to be so informed, wise, judicious, and discriminating that we can understand the tangled morass of practical politics, in countries that are thousands of miles from our shores, with cultures that are almost entirely alien to ours, with populaces that don't speak our same native tongue. Feel comfortable with that?

I assume that I know a lot more about Egypt or Yemen or Libya than the average American-- I would suggest that the average American almost certainly couldn't find these countries on a map, tell you what languages they speak in those countries, perhaps even on which continents they are found-- but the idea that I can have an informed opinion about the internal politics of these countries is absurd. Absurd. I followed the health care debate, an internal political affair with which I have a great personal stake and a keen personal interest, with something resembling obsession. I can hardly comprehend how many hundreds of thousands of words I read on the subject. And yet in some ways I know so little.

And yet I am supposed to have knowledge enough about the internal politics of Libya? Enough to wager the future of the lives of every citizen of that country? Enough to commit human lives and millions of dollars to engineer the outcome that I think we want in that foreign country? With the fog of war, the law of unintended consequences, and all of those unknown unknowns, floating around out there, waiting to entrap us?

This is folly. It is insanity