Monday, January 19, 2004

Stream of Consciousness - This Morning

there's a fictional world, and the real world. the politician's job is to construct the most appealing fictional world, or, preferably, to cut through the fiction and show the real world, and how the platform is constructed on top of that.

*** website dude. Says he supports Bush because the Democrats want to go back to Clintonian foreign policy where we always ask the UN first before we do something.

well, this is not only fiction, but diametrically opposed to reality. Clinton militarily intervened in Bosnia with NATO forces, and without UN imprimatur. In fact, knowing that Russia would veto the action, Clinton didn't even bother going to the UN (and wasting political capital).

also, comparing the casualties, one has to wonder which action was more effective, and look at the associations without rushing into judgements of causation. Who were the "peacekeepers" in Bosnia, and why having a better time of it than Iraq? Why are the numbers of casualties so different, and is this related to the conduct, strategy, or politics of the war?

finally, the Bush Administration went to the UN, and therefore can't try to claim otherwise. if their supporters try to claim otherwise, and blame it on Powell, they're forgetting who's in charge, and who's responsible.

contrary to Clinton, the Bush Administration was not able to divine that the UN wouldn't play ball, or didn't care, and instead ended up trashing the reputation and honor of our nation by trumping false evidence and championing a shifty case, resulting in great diminishment to our brand, image, and popularity around the world (badly wasting political capital).

in addition, we went in unilaterally, without even seemingly considering a NATO action, which inevitably led to even greater suspicion and disapproval of our motives and methods, though we claimed allies, most of which were repressive nations, along with England, Australia, Spain, and Italy, while the rest of the free world was greatly in opposition.

that's the reality.


association does not imply causation.

the claim that catching Saddam has diminished attacks by 30% of whatever number. there is a reach here, because there could very well be other reasons for this. we've known for awhile that the money and arms are finite for the resistance, and in need of being replenished, and not so easily available as time goes on. so this could just as easily explain the "lull" in attacks, and also possibly imply a strategy of theirs that preemptively realized this development, and therefore focused on more precise intelligence and deadlier attacks as the resistance went forward.

casualties do seem to be holding, if even the attacks have gone down.

regardless, the rush to imply causation from an association is not deductive or rational. the desirable conclusion is acknowledged and in mind, and the evidence is compiled to support it. we want the resistance to diminish now that saddam has been captured - who doesn't? but that doesn't mean we should get carried away with proving it, and our fiction, while ignoring that reality may differ.

indeed, it is our wish for reality to conform with our fiction, or utopia, that drives this. in anthropological and psychological terms, this might be construed as seeking "magical solutions", though we do seek to control and subdue nature, so there is a deeper and more intuitive explanation for it than dismissal as "magical".

I'm guessing that this fallacy of association implying causation is rampant in our public discourse, political communication, and media reporting. it would be interesting to follow that up.

how much fiction, and how much reality?


further ruminating on the difference between the Bosnian and Iraqi occupations. we've ostensibly gone into Iraq to liberate them, and to lessen the perceived danger of Saddam.

Saddam is now captured, the danger has clearly been dispelled, if not discounted in the first place, and the Iraqi people are liberated from Saddam's repression.

we are still occupying. yet we are doing so in a position of no strength. for, if the Shiites desired, they could make the occupation impossible.


because our reasons are used up for being there, short of remaking Iraq into a modern free market democracy. in order to do that though, we need their cooperation. if they resist, especially the majority Shiites, the measures we would have to take in relation to our other goals as far as the liberation of Iraq would be regrettable and hyprocritical.

in previous occupations, the occupied were essentially the enemy, and this dynamic was known by both parties, and probably encouraged a one-sided balance-of-power that allowed the occupying power to do what was necessary to accomplish its goals.

on the other hand, the Iraqis are not our enemies but our friends, or at least sympathetic enough for us to expend blood and treasure in liberating them. either they are respected equals or charges we are responsible for. either way, this means we are limited in the destructive means by which we can compel obedience to the aims of the occupation.

if the Shiites all resisted, we would not have enough forces to deal with it, without bringing in reinforcements and beginning indiscriminate bombing.

we would be back to Vietnam-era hypocrisy and doublespeak where we had to "destroy the village (and villagers), in order to save it (and them)".

since in no way have we ever made the case that the people of Iraq threatened us, or threaten us today, there would be no moral basis for our upgrading to a war against a united Iraqi resistance either.

only very specious claims based upon our desire to build a modern free market democracy in Iraq as essential to our national security would then be left, and the American people and the world just wouldn't buy it.

the reality is that fiction wouldn't sell.