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Does self interest negate the positive effects of a country's actions?

  1. May 24, 2004 #1
    Does self interest negate the positive effects of a country's actions???

    The USA is constantly claimed to be selfish, despite the result of 'selfish' acts being HIGHLY positive for others (The marshall plan is a great example).
    Currently, it could be argued that we would like to develop oil trade in Sudan. but the genocide taking place is prohibiting that from happening.
    Obivously genocide alone is a great reason to interfere, but let's just assume that the ONLY reason we wish to interfere is becasue peace in the region is condusive to us doing business there.

    Is it wrong?
    If not, then why do our not-so-altruistic deeds become slandered, despite the great help they are to many besides us???
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2004 #2
    Who has condemned the Marshall Plan?
     
  4. May 24, 2004 #3
    The Marshall Plan is a good example. It was a benefit to Eastern Europe, but its entire purpose was bolstering a barrier against the USSR.

    No, selfish interest which benefits other people is not bad... UNLESS it starts killing innocent people.
     
  5. May 24, 2004 #4

    Njorl

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    Self interest does not negate positive results, but it does raise questions about trust. When there is little or no self-interest, there is little distrust of motives. Once distrust enters into the situation, any humanitarian mission becomes more difficult to achieve. In this manner, interests and humanitarian objectives that should be synergystic, actually complicate eachother.

    Njorl
     
  6. May 24, 2004 #5

    selfAdjoint

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    Has anyone got an example of an action by any country any time that was not in some sense self interested? I can't think of any, and if there are none, and we decide that self intrerest cancels goodness of actions, then we conclude that there have been no good actions by countries in all of human history.

    Bite the bullet?
     
  7. May 24, 2004 #6
    SelfAdjoint: See my earlier response. There have been "good" actions by nations. There have also been actions driven by self-interest which resulted in innocent people dying.
     
  8. May 24, 2004 #7

    kat

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    I don't think it is even that clear, is it bad if it saves more from dying then it's killed? Or is that irrelevent, because most self interest actions from states have resulted in the killing of innocent people. In fact..I'm having a hard time thinking of even one which did not.
     
  9. May 24, 2004 #8
    One innocent death caused by such an action is too many.

    Foreign aid (donating food to countries in druoght, for example) doesn't.
     
  10. May 24, 2004 #9

    kat

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    because of the self interest, or becuase one innocent death is too many, even if it saves say...2, 3 or, 5 more?
     
  11. May 24, 2004 #10
    One innocent death is too many. If the objective is self-interest, then saving those lives is not the objective anyway. Find another way.

    Unfortunately, some governments don't want another way. The people in power, and their associates, are tied up with the defence contractors and resource companies, so that war becomes a profitable industry. They have no reason to seek other ways. They want war, they want the profits, and they kill people.
     
  12. May 24, 2004 #11
    ANY action in Sudan would undoubtedly be met with atleast 1 innocent death. What do you do then, when it is estimated that 100,000's will die before this year is out without intervention?
     
  13. May 24, 2004 #12
    It's called "diplomacy".
     
  14. May 24, 2004 #13

    kat

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    In the past your "It's called diplomacy" has meant we'll talk talk talk (and usually profit profit profit) while you kill kill kill, just don't send your refugees to our Euro borders or we'll have to act. Sharmutas the bunch of 'em.
     
  15. May 24, 2004 #14
    Please try to do better next time.
     
  16. May 24, 2004 #15

    kat

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    Historically correct, despite your denial.
     
  17. May 24, 2004 #16
    Why don't you go into greater detail - it's easy to say that. It's harder to tell me what kind of diplomacy you will implement to stop militias from commiting genocide based on race and/or religion.
     
  18. May 24, 2004 #17

    russ_watters

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    Maybe I'm pessimistic, but like S.A., I don't consider there to be such a thing as a purely altruistic act. Motives are always a question. That said, a selfish motive in general does not negate a positive act.

    Adam: Neville Chaimberlain pursued diplomacy absolutely as well.
     
  19. May 24, 2004 #18
    An assertion is not a fact.
     
  20. May 25, 2004 #19

    Njorl

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    Agreed, but some motives are more altruistic than others. Not wishing to live with the guilt of allowing another genocide can be seen as a selfish motive. But it is certainly more altruistic than trying to secure another nations raw materials.

    Njorl
     
  21. May 25, 2004 #20

    russ_watters

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    Gee, I'm even more pessimistic than that (I blame that on Clinton): in recent years, our humanitarian actions have amounted to little more than grandstanding. Bush I in '91 was more interested in his coalition ('Hey, look at my huge, throbbing... coalition!') than siezing an opportunity to take down Saddam and Clinton told 19 marines in Somalia that their mission was not worth their lives and their lives weren't worth protecting with proper equipment. But hey - it made for some juicy news stories and a couple of points on an opinion poll. And that's what's important, right?
     
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