As is my wont I have been trying to categorize Mr. De Long. I had him labelled as a fairly decent person if an anti-communist. But this almost turned my stomach. How can one advance an ethics which says that one cannot condemn the actions of the CIA because on a statistical probability more would have been killed by the Asian communists? Presumably this is a brutal version of consequentialism - in which unpleasant acts are justified if they advance the greater good.
Still it represents a total failure to work out the politics of Asian communism. To make an arrogant and quite racist remark that Eurasian Communists have been "very bad news", is to ignore the role that Western powers have played in attempting to crush Asian communism. This in the case of Vietnam has involved keeping an entire nation in poverty through world trade and investment embargoes following the Vietnamese victory of 1975.
For what it is worth let me state that the world wide Communist movement, including that in Asia, represented an attempt to address the wrongs of capitalism and to advance the cause of human kind. Specific evils here were colonialism and imperialism. These two structures guaranteed and indeed guarantee that most of humanity lives in appalling poverty.
Now the sum total of the efforts of the CIA has been to attempt to prop up imperialism. They have labored mightily in the cause of those who have. Communists have fought for those who have not. Humanity is in the parlous state it is in now because American organizations like the CIA have been successful in their counter-revolutionary actions.
Eurasian communism has been largely crushed. In Thailand the communist students in the 80s were hung from the trees. I suppose we should rejoice at that along with Mr. De Long presumably because it prevented worse.
Perhaps I should also stop worrying about the East Timorese after all they were Eurasians and Suharto called them communists before he butchered 200,000 of them.
Funny though all these massacres of the horrible Eurasian communists do not seemed to have improved life for the majority. And I naively thought that was the point of a consequentialist ethic.