a response to Steven on Iraq

I was pleasantly surprised to see Steven had printed my email to him, I wasn't sure if I would be considered signal amidst all the noise he is surely receiving, especially since he has such a wide receive bandwidth :) [1]

What he has done is ignore my request for simple numbered facts and painted a wider picture of a civilizational conflict taken straight from Samuel Huntington. Along with the essay by Fonte about Transnational Progressives, Samuel Huntington's essay is of the type which seeks to find a "root cause" target population for all the perceived ills befalling Western society as it seeks to bring light to the wretched corners of this world. I heartily recommmend Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad to you, Steven, as it encapsulates this worldview and looks at it critically (but in the end, agrees with it, but that was my reading. Acres of student essays have debated that point. It's a masterful piece of literature and I enthusiastically recommend it).

Of course, Steven (despite having voted for Gore) will surely consider Bush to be a mastermind who has fully grasped the intricaicies of the cultural war that he is describing. Every setback is interpreted as part of the plan ("rope a dope"). Bush announces to the UN that he seeks Security Council resolution, but also insists that he is willing to go it alone. He is preparing to ask Congress for approval despite insisting that he doesn't need it. If you believe that we don't need UN approval OR Congressional authorization to wage war against Iraq, then fine. But why, then, bother with the public requests for approval from these entities? Could it be, perhaps, that Bush possesses not the omniscient awareness of the Real Enemy (as explained by SDB) but is actually trying to chart a middle course through conflicting advice from differring advisors?

The problem with Steven's long post detailing the Evil Arab Culture (with appropriate caveats about how that term is somewhat fallacious and a warning about crossing the bounds of political correctness[2]) is that he has created a Straw Man. I asked him about specific reasons to attack Iraq, he responded with a caricature of Arab culture as a vague and diffuse enemy, whose relevance to Iraq is questionable[3]. Steven's assumption of a causal link between a successful attack on Iraq and his stated desired result of a "defeat" of this supposed "Arab Culture" is tenous hand-waving. The fact is that the Baath party is the sole barrier between radical fundamentalist Islam and Iraq, so the suggestion that by attacking one you defeat the other is ludicrous and ignorant of middle-east politics and history. Proponents of total antiwar surrender have constructed equally plausible historical scenarios as his.

And the comparison with Japan is simply a False Analogy, since Japan was a nation, not a religion or a culture (Japanese culture is not monolithic and the caricature he presents of Japanese culture that needed to be "defeated" is again largely a sterotype).

I won't even bother right now with Steven's statements about Islam, all of which are utterly false. I am willing to discuss that issue separately, but we are talking about Iraq, and Islam has very little to do with it.

In the past, Steven has answered the question "after we invade, what next?" over email with an optimistic assessment that we would "set up a democratic regime". In the experience of history, successful democracies are not "set up" but rather must arise from within. Is Steven willing to comit to a Neo-Wilsonian program of nation building? Certainly we have not suceeded in that regard in Afghanistan.

To summarize, Steven has answered my request for specific reasons to attack Iraq (not Arabs, not cultures, not Japan) with an evasion, describing a hypothetical and conveniently diffuse enemy. He does not explain in causal detail how attacking Iraq will further the goal of defeating this enemy. He doesn't even address the issue of what happens after Saddam is deposed.

I repeat my question to you, Steven. Please enumerate the specific reasons for attacking Iraq, as bulleted points[4].

UPDATE: Demosthenes points out that the vast cultural war that SDB is arguing for is exactly the desired outcome of the Al-Qaeda attacks on the America.

UPDATE 2: Steven hasn't linked my response to his post yet, but does respond via email:

What you are trying to do with your response is to shift the terms of the
discussion. I can't answer your question about why we need to attack Iraq as
a series of bullet points specifically about Iraq, because our need to
attack Iraq isn't specifically about Iraq, any more than our attack against
Morocco in 1942 was about Morocco.

I find it somewhat ironic to be accused by him of shifting the debate. . I was clearly asking about the proposed Battle of Iraq. It was Steven who "shifted the debate" to the general War against the Arab Islamist Bogeyman. My question was independent of whether I agree with the War or not. If the Battle of Iraq is truly critical to the War on the Arab Islamist Bogeyman, then it should be possible to explain why.

The analogy to Morocco is apt to my point, not his. The specific reasons we attacked Morocco in 1942 were directly related to the War against the Axis Powers. Bullet points in favor of invading Morocco, of the type I am asking for from SDB, might read:

1. A Second Front is needed against the Axis
2. A French landing is not possible at present
3. etc.

(I'll let WWII military historians supply the details).

However, Steven has partly answered my original question in the second paragraph of his email:

We have to attack Iraq as part of the process of defeating all of Arabia; we
have to attack Iraq first because it's near to getting nuclear weapons and
we can't take the chance of letting that happen.

finally, some scraps of meat! From this I deduce that some of the bullet points related to Iraq are:

1. Iraq is acquiring WMD
2. Iraq can only be stopped from developing WMD by direct full-scale
3. Iraq would support Arabia if we attacked it

are there more? is that it? and as I asked Steven earlier, if any or all of these bullet points could be disproved, would it affect the calculation of whether this Battle is desirable or not?


[1] Noise scales with bandwidth to the root power. End Nerd Lesson.
[2] Will someone please explain to me what the heck political correctness is supposed to mean? the only people who ever use the term are people ostensibly opposed to it. Do you actually have a empirical example or is it just another fancy label like "tranzi" or "neocon" to be applied to your target of the moment? It's really just a subtle form of ad-hominem attack, as far as I can tell. You're a tranzi! You're a NeoCon! You're Politically Correct! and thus the faculties' shutdown is enabled, and independent thoughts cease. Activate stereotypes, and Engage!
[3] Notably, Steven has dropped any pretense of linking Iraq with 9-11. Good. The facts don't bear out any such link.
[4] and please, leave the bogeyman out of it.

Note: comments are not working, Haloscan is down. I'll put em back when they come back up. Email me if you have comments. Thanks! UPDATE: I've replaced Haloscan with Enetation. Let's see if this works better. I'll donate money to them if the service pleases me.


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