"Lord Palmerston, too strong-minded to stoop to hypocrisy and political correctness, once famously remarked that "countries have no friends, only permanent interests". What, however, are a country's interests? Let us not willingly walk into the linguistic trap of treating a society as one person that has one mind and, if rational, acts to satisfy his preferences. A society, consisting of never fewer than two persons and typically many millions more, has never fewer than two sets of preferences and usually millions more. A single set of "social" preferences exists only in the notorious "social welfare function" of welfare economists, who must imagine and postulate one, for without it they would have no leg to stand on. One economist's "social welfare" or "Social utility function", however, is neither more nor less false than that of another."