This is an amusing thought experiment, of a conversation between a "war monger" and a "peacenik" (you may substitute other terms as you see fit - I personally prefer "neocon" and "neowilson"). I will reproduce it in full. While I don't agree with many of the assertions of PN (for example, that George Bush was appointed President by the Supreme Court. I will explian why Election 2000 was a measure of the success for our representative democracy, not a failure, later), but every single one of the assertions of WM below are extremely illustrative and representative.
A WARMONGER EXPLAINS WAR TO A PEACENIK
PeaceNik: Why did you say we are we invading Iraq?
WarMonger: We are invading Iraq because it is in violation of security council resolution 1441. A country cannot be allowed to violate security council resolutions.
PN: But I thought many of our allies, including Israel, were in violation of more security council resolutions than Iraq.
WM: It's not just about UN resolutions. The main point is that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction, and the first sign of a smoking gun could well be a mushroom cloud over NY.
PN: Mushroom cloud? But I thought the weapons inspectors said Iraq had no nuclear weapons.
WM: Yes, but biological and chemical weapons are the issue.
PN: But I thought Iraq did not have any long range missiles for attacking us or our allies with such weapons.
WM: The risk is not Iraq directly attacking us, but rather terrorists networks that Iraq could sell the weapons to.
PN: But coundn't virtually any country sell chemical or biological materials? We sold quite a bit to Iraq in the eighties ourselves, didn't we?
WM: That's ancient history. Look, Saddam Hussein is an evil man that has an undeniable track record of repressing his own people since the early eighties. He gasses his enemies. Everyone agrees that he is a power-hungry lunatic murderer.
PN: We sold chemical and biological materials to a power-hungry lunatic murderer?
WM: The issue is not what we sold, but rather what Saddam did. He is the one that launched a pre-emptive first strike on Kuwait.
PN: A pre-emptive first strike does sound bad. But didn't our ambassador to Iraq, April Gillespie, know about and green-light the invasion of Kuwait?
WM: Let's deal with the present, shall we? As of today, Iraq could sell its biological and chemical weapons to Al Quaida. Osama BinLaden himself released an audio tape calling on Iraqis to suicide-attack us, proving a partnership between the two.
PN: Osama Bin Laden? Wasn't the point of invading Afghanistan to kill him?
WM: Actually, it's not 100% certain that it's really Osama Bin Laden on the tapes. But the lesson from the tape is the same: there could easily be a partnership between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein unless we act.
PN: Is this the same audio tape where Osama Bin Laden labels Saddam a secular infidel?
WM: You're missing the point by just focusing on the tape. Powell presented a strong case against Iraq.
PN: He did?
WM: Yes, he showed satellite pictures of an Al Quaeda poison factory in Iraq.
PN: But didn't that turn out to be a harmless shack in the part of Iraq controlled by the Kurdish opposition?
WM: And a British intelligence report...
PN: Didn't that turn out to be copied from an out-of-date graduate student paper?
WM: And reports of mobile weapons labs...
PN: Weren't those just artistic renderings?
WM: And reports of Iraquis scuttling and hiding evidence from inspectors...
PN: Wasn't that evidence contradicted by the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix?
WM: Yes, but there is plently of other hard evidence that cannot be revealed because it would compromise our security.
PN: So there is no publicly available evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
WM: The inspectors are not detectives, it's not their JOB to find evidence. You're missing the point.
PN: So what is the point?
WM: The main point is that we are invading Iraq because resolution 1441 threatened "severe consequences." If we do not act, the security council will become an irrelevant debating society.
PN: So the main point is to uphold the rulings of the security council?
WM: Absolutely. ...unless it rules against us.
PN: And what if it does rule against us?
WM: In that case, we must lead a coalition of the willing to invade Iraq.
PN: Coalition of the willing? Who's that?
WM: Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, Spain, and Italy, for starters.
PN: I thought Turkey refused to help us unless we gave them tens of billions of dollars.
WM: Nevertheless, they may now be willing.
PN: I thought public opinion in all those countries was against war.
WM: Current public opinion is irrelevant. The majority expresses its will by electing leaders to make decisions.
PN: So it's the decisions of leaders elected by the majority that is important?
PN: But George Bush wasn't elected by voters. He was selected by the U.S. Supreme C...-
WM: I mean, we must support the decisions of our leaders, however they were elected, because they are acting in our best interest. This is about being a patriot. That's the bottom line.
PN: So if we do not support the decisions of the president, we are not patriotic?
WM: I never said that.
PN: So what are you saying? Why are we invading Iraq?
WM: As I said, because there is a chance that they have weapons of mass destruction that threaten us and our allies.
PN: But the inspectors have not been able to find any such weapons.
WM: Iraq is obviously hiding them.
PN: You know this? How?
WM: Because we know they had the weapons ten years ago, and they are still unaccounted for.
PN: The weapons we sold them, you mean?
PN: But I thought those biological and chemical weapons would degrade to an unusable state over ten years.
WM: But there is a chance that some have not degraded.
PN: So as long as there is even a small chance that such weapons exist, we must invade?
PN: But North Korea actually has large amounts of usable chemical, biological, AND nuclear weapons, AND long range missiles that can reach the west coast AND it has expelled nuclear weapons inspectors, AND threatened to turn America into a sea of fire.
WM: That's a diplomatic issue.
PN: So why are we invading Iraq instead of using diplomacy?
WM: Aren't you listening? We are invading Iraq because we cannot allow the inspections to drag on indefinitely. Iraq has been delaying, deceiving, and denying for over ten years, and inspections cost us tens of millions.
PN: But I thought war would cost us tens of billions.
WM: Yes, but this is not about money. This is about security.
PN: But wouldn't a pre-emptive war against Iraq ignite radical Muslim sentiments against us, and decrease our security?
WM: Possibly, but we must not allow the terrorists to change the way we live. Once we do that, the terrorists have already won.
PN: So what is the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security, color-coded terror alerts, and the Patriot Act? Don't these change the way we live?
WM: I thought you had questions about Iraq.
PN: I do. Why are we invading Iraq?
WM: For the last time, we are invading Iraq because the world has called on Saddam Hussein to disarm, and he has failed to do so. He must now face the consequences.
PN: So, likewise, if the world called on us to do something, such as find a peaceful solution, we would have an obligation to listen?
WM: By "world", I meant the United Nations.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the United Nations?
WM: By "United Nations" I meant the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an an obligation to listen to the Security Council?
WM: I meant the majority of the Security Council.
PN: So, we have an obligation to listen to the majority of the Security Council?
WM: Well... there could be an unreasonable veto.
PN: In which case?
WM: In which case, we have an obligation to ignore the veto.
PN: And if the majority of the Security Council does not support us at all?
WM: Then we have an obligation to ignore the Security Council.
PN: That makes no sense.
WM: If you love Iraq so much, you should move there. Or maybe France, with the all the other cheese-eating surrender monkeys. It's time to boycott their wine and cheese, no doubt about that.
PN: I give up!
By V. Forsaith
Another thing about this is, that it demonstrates a clear flaw in the debating technique of Socratic questioning.