Forgive me if this is just plain too geeky, but I started playing Temple of Elemental Evil last night and it gave me the urge to apply the D&D alignment system to world politics.

In D&D, moral alignment is described along two axes: the first includes "lawful", "neutral", and "chaotic"; the second is "good", "neutral", "evil". So a person or organization has an alignment with two components, one from each set, and there are 9 possible combinations. For example, "lawful good" or "chaotic neutral". If someone is neutral along both axes, they are "true neutral". Please refer to this post for more specific information on D&D alignments (I wrote it for reference).

With regard to "international law" and the interests of the United States, America can be seen as a neutral good actor. We tend to give lip-service to organizations such as the UN, but we really don't seem to care that much whether they go along with us or not. And from my perspective, our country is generally trying to do good.

Our diplomatic enemies, such as France and Germany, are lawful evil. They don't have the military or economic power to challenge us directly, so they fall back on international legal institutions such as the UN to thwart America and to further their own goals. Since they're willing to leave vicious tyrants in place for the sake of stability, I have no problem categorizing them as evil.

Saddam Hussein was pretty clearly chaotic evil. Sure, he used the legal system in his own country to control his people, but from everything I've read that system was pretty arbitrary. Saddam's laws were designed to keep people terrified; the populace could never be certain who would be the next to be dragged off to jail and tortured. And of course, Saddam had no respect for "international law" either.

Kim Jong Il does seem pretty insane, but I think that's by calculation, so I wouldn't categorize North Korea as chaotic neutral; it's more like neutral evil. They tend to use the UN and treaties when it suits their purposes, but they abandon them just as quickly when it doesn't. The concentration camps and threats of nuclear blackmail put them pretty firmly in the Axis of Evil.

As for Britain, they're more lawful good than we are. Tony Blair has to be concerned with respecting the UN because so much of his population does (and dislikes America). The UK is trying to do good, and it is trying to do so within the legal framework of the world, such as it is. Blair was willing to bend a little to help in Iraq even without (yet another) UN resolution -- because it was a good cause -- but it made him uncomfortable.

The terrorists and al Qaeda are, of course, practically the epitome of chaotic evil. Their whole purpose is to destroy the existing social structure of the world, and to bring about the end of America and the dominance of the "infidels".

Yes, I'm being mean to people in the comments here who say innane things. I know, I know -- I'm normally such a polite fellow, but it's kinda fun to indulge just this once.

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