Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

The Worth of a Man

Lut and I have been reading (or in his cases, re-reading) Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan novels. We were in the car and discussing Vorkosigan and interplanetary-politics. Lut noted that one of the characters in one novel had overestimated the importance of another. "A nation is not going to start a war over just one man."

"I don't know. It depends on the man, and the circumstances under which he's imperiled."

"Not when the person is in trouble as the result of a botched unauthorized military adventure -- "

"Yes, granted, not under those circumstances. But if you kidnapped the right man, or the wrong one -- "

"Governments turn a blind eye to kidnappings all the time."

"Yeah, but if, say, President Bush were kidnapped by a foreign country, do you think the US wouldn't go to war over that?"

Lut looked skeptical. "How many lives is one man worth?"

"It's not a matter of his importance, it's a matter of principle. Of showing that you don't get away with assaulting the most important political figures*, that you've got more strength that that. We'd go to war over President Bush being kidnapped, if it were necessary and obvious that it was the act of a foreign nation and not a group of individuals acting privately. And even the most ardent liberals would agree that was the appropriate response, no matter how much they might hate the man," I argued.

Then I started to laugh. "And the reason even radical liberals would agree we need to get President Bush back is that otherwise we'd have Dick Cheney for president."

Lut chuckled. "It's sad when you pick his running mate such that people will want to insure that you stay healthy so he won't get in office."

"Yeah. That was his father's strategy, too. 'And I promise not to die'."

* Lut points out now, as I'm writing this, "I'd rather prefer a style of war where the leaders got killed instead of their masses of followers, in fact." I gotta admit there's appeal in that.
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