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A word to the wise

Reader comment on item: Should the West Be Supporting Syria's Assad?
in response to reader comment: It is not for our interests rebels to take over Syria.

Submitted by Martin (United States), Apr 18, 2013 at 23:05

I have read the basis of Mr. Pipes decision and noted it is firmly grounded in modern decision theory, the mathematical study of strategies for optimal decision-making between options involving different risks or expectations of gain. There are several rational ways of making a decision under uncertainty. The wise decision rule when faced with several unpleasant alternatives, by empirical logic, if not intuitively self-evident, is to select the strategy that will minimize the maximum losses that could occur, if losses do occur, had you made a decision in any other way. Put another way, select the alternative for which your regret will be the minimum over any other alternative you might have chosen. Mr. Pipes is simply pointing out we will have far fewer regrets with Mr. Asad being preoccupied internally with Syria than with the risk of another agitated Islamic state seeking to overrun the world. Is there any reason why we cannot seem to put a stop to that sort of political development once and for all so that we all might go back to living more or less peaceful lives without the spook of militant Islam haunting our waking moments.

The reader may recall Homer advising Sailors to sail closer to Scylla, than Charybdis since Charybdis could drown his whole ship: Better to keep your ship than lose your entire crew, Odysseus was warned. Even so, Scylla managed to catch six of his men, devouring them alive. At least it was only six.

In similar vein will Americans have fewer regrets after 3 years if they establish a decision rule that says whatever Mr. Obama proposes do -- or do the opposite?

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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