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Monday, February 24, 2003

Talking Past Each Other

Calpundit writes a somewhat poignant post today.

For my part, I never meant to imply that Kevin is anything but a fine person and someone with whom I agree 99.9% of the time. I believe that the argument about "intelligence" is one of semantics and where race is concerned, I think that semantics are a huge issue. Kevin may disagree, but I don't think that there is any fundamental disagreement with respect to how we view race and racism. I wish that I had made that more plain.

Furthermore, I respect the angst and difficulty Kevin has had in coming to his position on Iraq and I recognize that this is so for many liberals. His position is not indicative of a knee jerk support of Dubyah or a sense of adolescent bloodlust like so much of the blogosphere. It comes from a sense that it is better to take care of the problem sooner than later even under our current terrible leadership.

But, I disagree. I do believe that terrorism and petty tyrants with nukes are exceedingly dangerous and that we cannot afford to disengage from those issues. But, I think that the way we do it is almost as important as doing it at all. In this modern world of cable news and internet chatrooms and seething resentment and economic interdependence it is no longer possible to be an imperial power without almost instantaneous blowback.

I believe that terrorism is the biggest immediate danger facing America and that the Axis of Evil could have been kept in a box long enough to subdue that threat, at least to some degree. I think that blowing our relationships with those in the region and allies elsewhere was absurd considering the threat we are under. I grant that my mistrust of this administration is so thorough that I cannot believe anything they say, but they have been singularly unconvincing in the matter of Iraq's immediate threat.

Public record shows that neoconservative foreign policy ideologues have been pushing for invasion for years and it shows that their most important rationale for invasion was to show the despots of the world that we would invade and overthrow those who would attempt to gain WMD. And they believe that this show of strength will change the dynamic in and of itself to one of a more acquiescent mid-east and a more reasonable Kim Jong Il.

This is what's wrong with the invasion. I believe it is likely to have the opposite effect that it is intended to have and indeed the situation in North Korea suggests that I'm right. I believe that to wait would have been a better choice.

But, I too commented back in October on another blog (in answer to the charge that that antiwar rallies would likely turn into pro-Saddam rallies) that says some of the same things that Kevin and others are saying now:

I don't think the pro-Saddam rally will be well attended.

But, there will be prayer vigils and sleepless nights on the part of those of us who hope that this incompetent administration doesn't fuck it up so much that all hell breaks loose in the region, including the real possibility of nuclear war and many american and arab casualties. And we'll be wishing fervently that terrorism on US soil doesn't become something we'll have to learn to live with because we just can't seem to kill all the people who hate our guts and multiply exponentially with every aggressive action that we take. And we'll sure hope that we can get some cooperation from the unstable regimes that finance them without having to invade and depose their leaders, too.

And, if everything works out, let's keep our fingers crossed that we can turn the mideast into a democratic paradise quickly because judging from our experience in Afghanistan, our President meant it when he said he "wasn't into nation building." We really don't need to fight this war again.

And I know that a lot of us will probably get together around the dinner table and water coolers to talk about the enormous sums of money remaking the mideast is costing, and will continue to cost for years to come, while we worry about whether we'll have jobs or health care or a chance of a comfortable retirement.

So, rather than attending pro-Saddam rallies, people who are against this war being waged by someone in whom they have no faith will instead be gathering together to fervently pray that his adventure goes perfectly every step of the way.

Once the die was cast, and I believe it was cast last August during the meetings in Crawford with all the military brass, I don't know that there was ever much we could do but register our doubts, make our statements, protest and go on the record and then hope that it doesn't go as badly as we think it might.

At this point, what choice to we have?

Atrios says it better than I can.

Sorry Kevin. I think I'm getting edgy. Wartalk and terrorism does that, what with the lack of sleep and obsessive internet reading. Enjoy the movie. Make it a comedy.


Charles Murtaugh writes: "Calpundit has become a one-stop shop for all my anguished-liberal needs," which made me wonder: Is there such a thing as an anguished conservative? I can't think of one.

And that observation, in turn, reminded me of the post I linked to from Interesting Times last week:

The two psychologists think that inept people are often self-assured because they lack self-monitoring skills, which are the same skills required for competence. Subjects who scored in the lowest quartile in tests of logic, English grammar, and humor were also the mostly likely to ``grossly overestimate'' how well they performed.

``Not only do (incompetent people) reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices,'' wrote Dr. Kruger, ``but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it

Ah. That explains it.