Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Pacifism and Political Economy (Speaking of the Crimea...)

EconLog's Bryan Caplan rightly criticizes The Economist Magazine today for a stunning lack of substance in discussing what attitude the West should take in response to recent Russian activities. It occurs to me that my post from a few days ago fits well with Caplan's case for pacifism, which can stand repetition: Sometimes, wars have arguably accomplished good things (though one cannot be too sure sans a counterfactual), but other times they have worsened life greatly (again, arguably: it is difficult to know what would have happened had things gone differently). Since, irrespective of final outcomes, the short-run costs are plainly tremendous, wars are to be avoided.

Similarly, from the more theoretical point of view of my recent post, if policy won't change as a result of military takeover, it makes no sense to resist invading armies. Maybe the idea that wars are not worth fighting would make it more tempting for foreign powers, unsympathetic to this idea, to invade, but for resultant policy to be different, it would have to be that the threat of war, now absent, impacts which policies are chosen. But there are many pacific threats which also influence policy (e.g. demonstrations, black-market activities...), so I am not sure how significant the threat of war is.

If my thoughts from a few days ago have any merit, it seems to me that they strengthen the case for pacifism, at least a little bit.

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