Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Peace For Our Time

I've been slowly working my way through The Last Lion a biography of Winston Churchilll, on audiobook via my my iPod/Audible. The year is about 1939, and it's hard not to note parallels between Chamberlain's appeasement strategy and appeasement strategies proposed by left wingers in the US and Europe.

This does not mean there actually are any parallels -- if Hitler had died of a heart attack in 1940 Chamberlain would gone down in history as a great statesman, while Churchill would be a relegated to quirky footnote status. It is only subsequent events that demonstrated beyond question that Churchill was right and that appeasement was a disaster that lead to the needless death of millions across the world.

The truth is that the real comparison to any choice is what would have happened if that choice was not made, that is, what is the most realistic next best option, not any platonic ideal. In the long run, the person closer to reality will make better bets, and therefore win, than the other guy. It's worth keeping track of 1) what people predict and 2) what happens over time.

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