politician is a noble human being?

can politicians act out of personal decency?
new york times columnist david brooks declared his support for the obama administration's libya plan last week, citing president obama's nobility as a motivating factor. obama, he said, was convicted "that the U.S. cannot sit by and watch tens of thousands of people get massacred when it has the means to prevent it." (article)

yes. it. can. but not in any nation strategic to its neo-imperial interests. we haven't interfered in north korea, where a entire population is enslaved to the state, impoverished to the point of starvation, and systematically brainwashed to the advantage of a megalomaniacal fascist dictator. we had no troops on the ground in sudan, where genocidal conflicts raged for years. we took no actions against mubarak's "democracy" in egypt.

no, the government of the united states has no interest inactions like supporting revolutions or distributing humanitarian aid that do not support its financial interests. north korean leadership would retaliate against any u.s.-led attacks, destabilizing the entire region. sudanese rebels would have fragmented the country and disrupted the oil trade. egyptian president and dictator hosni mubarak was one of the u.s.'s greatest allies in the region, and received massive amount of foreign aid from the u.s.

many people may be shocked by such statements, claiming as that the a country like the u.s., with so much military sophistication and so much international sway has the right and obligation to defend the libyan civilian population. many, no doubt many readers of david brooks column, now think the president obama is taking military action in libya out of the goodness of his heart.

but obama is a politician. he has almost inconceivably large incentives to act in the financial interest of the nation. however, as a politician, president obama has little if any incentive to act as a decent and compassion human being. whatever decisions he makes are pressured by hundreds of different financial interests; and almost all of them want want the us economy to recover and thrive so that they can make more money (some notable exceptions are large banks and auto-makers, who would rather just take money from the government directly).

the president's job is to balance out everyone's interests and find a solution that makes everyone more money. his main occupational hazard is that he will never have moral hazard: do what's best for $veryone, and the country will succ$$d.

so in light of all this, can obama act as a decent human being? he's the president of the united states, so i submit that he cannot.


  1. are you into politics now? :P

  2. @mark: it's just a phase. my apologies to people who like reading about things that matter.

  3. While most of what you said is true, I think that two more things should be said:
    Being a poitician does not necessarily remove the spirit of nobility from a person, but it does restrain it for all of the reasons you stated above.That doesn't mean that there isn't a huge amount of compassion, sympathy, etc., swollen up inside of politicians that simply cannot always be acted on by factor of their job description.
    Even if the most noble person on Earth became president of the US, then they would need to govern their emotion and passion accordingly. The last thing we need is a passionate but reckless President. That could be infinitely more disastrous!
    Lets point our criticism at the system and not the people in this case.

  4. @michael: thanks for the comment. i at least partially agree with it, and it seems very well thought-out. any other thoughts about individual politicians as they pertain to the larger political system?