Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Invaders

We know we live in a world in which the elite have taken control of the political system. They have almost all the money, they use it to support or oppose political candidates, and politicians need that money to get elected.

As we have seen, political decisions are usually influenced by corporate demands. War is no exception. Invasion is always a choice, and we know who benefits when such choices are made. The military benefits and arms manufacturers benefit. All the corporations with government contracts benefit. The oil companies benefit. One thing that Megan McArdle has taught me is that it's about the money, almost always. Money is power and purpose, safety and pleasure. It is a source of self-esteem and a defense against insecurity.

Our elite steal from the poor, poison our air, water and land, torture and kill their enemies and prisoners, and then lecture us about our morals. Giving them the benefit of the doubt on invasion is insane; to believe what they tell us is to ignore reality. Libya has control over oil. We need oil. We have already invaded-what, four? five? countries in the middle east and financially support others. Everyone knows this but not many people like to admit it. They find excuses to ignore the facts and eagerly discusses them among themselves, examining each feeble act of cowardice in loving detail. And thus centrist punditry was born.

Let's watch Jonathan Chait squirm as he tries to justify his support for another invasion. It sure beats contemplating yet another American war. He can be useful for once by amusing us.


Why intervene in Libya and not elsewhere is a question that needs to be asked. But it's not a question that needs to be asked to determine the wisdom of intervening in Libya.

Refusing to ask questions is the hallmark of an ideologue who doesn't want to hear bad news. The answer to that question is "oil."





Should we also spend more money to prevent malaria? Yes, we should. But I see zero reason to believe that not intervening in Libya would lead to an increase in in American assistance to prevent malaria.

Yes, we should invade because it's not like we were going to do anything good with the money anyway.



Why not intervene in Burma or Yemen or elsewhere? I would say the answer is prudential: for various political, geographic, and military reasons, the United States has the chance to prevent slaughter in Libya at reasonable cost, and does not have the chance to do so in Burma.

I thought that question was settled? It must be worrying at his mind. The reasons are "oil" but telling us that we can do it on the cheap is an interesting twist. A familiar one, too. Just ask McArdle, who told us that Iraq oil would pay for the Iraq war.


But suppose there's no answer whatsoever. Does it matter? If it were the 1990s, and the Clinton administration were contemplating an expansion of children's health insurance, would it be important to determine exactly why we're covering uninsured children but not uninsured adults? No. The question is whether this particular policy intervention is likely to succeed or fail.

Does it matter if we know why we invade? Of course not! The only question is if we'll win or fail!



Now, I think there are very reasonable arguments to suggest that the operation in Libya could devolve into a quagmire, fail to achieve its objections, or achieve them at unacceptable cost.

It's the McArdle Technique--by stating something you are negating that thing, magically. If you have a conflict of interest you simply state that you have a conflict of interest and then it won't count anymore. Then you can go ahead and profit from it! This handy-dandy technique also works for very reasonable arguments. If you state that an argument is reasonable, you can then ignore it and go back to supporting your own unreasonable argument. This technique neatly cuts out the whole "prove your argument using facts" stage of punditry, which was the most tedious one anyway and will not be missed at all.


And, of course, some people -- not Sullivan or Klein -- think the U.S. has no right to intervene in places like Libya. But that's the question. The question of whether or not we ought to intervene in some other country, or in some other way, is an important foreign policy issue, but not an argument against intervention in Libya.


Stated, dismissed, hit post and go out for coffee. Best freaking job ever. He says the question of whether or not we should invade Libya is not an argument against invading Libya. Chait has to blather a bunch of nonsense to avoid examining the facts of the argument. He has to tell us that determining the facts will not help us decide whether or not to invade Libya--and he's right, because we don't decide and the elite have absolutely no intention of looking at any facts while they start more killing, destroying, and spending.

Poor Chait. Everyone else gets to argue from emotion but he has to pretend that he's presenting an intellectual argument. It's kind of amusing embarrassing.

16 comments:

Jack Crow said...

Taken control?

Or: have always had it, but their predecessors had myth, Jesus and nationalism that hadn't frayed around the edges, and torn to the center, with which to obfuscate their otherwise obvious concentration of wealth and power - and this latest crop lacks both the skill and the resources to not be so nakedly raw and obvious about it?

Downpuppy said...

Does And, of course, some people -- not Sullivan or Klein -- think the U.S. has no right to intervene in places like Libya. But that's the question. make any sense?

He never even mentions the notion that there should be public debate & congressional action before blasting away.

Susan of Texas said...

Yes, they have always had it, but at least the lower classes had gained a tiny amount of control over their own lives in the last century. And there have always been people who eagerly accept submission, as well as a small number who reject it.

I hate that we have to submit to liars and hypocrites. I don't mind class warfare or fighting for survival but I hate being told to submit to malevolent parents, preening elite and murderous prize-winning thugs. For christ's sake, have the balls to look us in the eye when you stab us, instead of trying to do it when our back it turned.

Susan of Texas said...

It's irrelevant, Downpuppy.

KWillow said...

"...For christ's sake, have the balls to look us in the eye when you stab us, instead of trying to do it when our back it turned...

They ARE doing that. Consider Gov Warren and Rick Scott, the many other Repug politicians who seem to believe they were anointed Kings by 100% pubic acclaim, rather than elected Governor, Representative or Senator by small margins. Immediately destroying Unions, destroying the small acces women had to abortion (and bringing in the IRS to be their Abortion Police). Get this:
St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at al

Who will enforce THAT law, and how? What is the penalty for having cash?

This is truly terrifying.

Syz said...

This post by Chait was both predictable and despicable.

As a mainstream pundit, Chait is required by both custom and financial self-interest to provide the "intellectual argument" for yet another military intervention. And like a good pet, he performs exactly as expected.

Next step: conservative pundits link to Chait's post saying, "see, reasonable liberals agree with the need for military intervention" and then the "bipartisan consensus" is in play. After that, anyone who disagrees with the intervention in Libya is merely a "shrill partisan."

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Next step: conservative pundits link to Chait's post saying, "see, reasonable liberals agree with the need for military intervention" and then the "bipartisan consensus" is in play. After that, anyone who disagrees with the intervention in Libya is merely a "shrill partisan."

Didn't this used to be Joke Line's job?
~

nate said...

*golf clap*

Typically brilliant, Susan.

freq flag said...

But suppose there's no answer whatsoever. Does it matter?

Why bother asking?
Remember: No One Can Know Anything. Ever. (another glorious page from the ArgleBargle Illuminated Manuscript)

Lurking Canadian said...

What is the last bit even supposed to mean? "The question of whether the US has the right to intervene overseas has nothing to do with the question of whether the US has the right to intervene in Libya"? Are those not, fundamentally, the same question?

Tommykey said...

"The question of whether the US has the right to intervene overseas has nothing to do with the question of whether the US has the right to intervene in Libya"?

Sounds like the William Jennings Bryan character in Inherit The Wind.

"I don't think about things that I don't think about."

Anonymous said...

"...Money is power and purpose, safety and pleasure. It is a source of self-esteem and a defense against insecurity...."

I recently re-read "Theory of the Leisure Class" with great profit. I recommend it to anyone who hates McArdle.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Just ask McArdle, who told us that Iraq oil would pay for the Iraq war.

She must have cribbed that from the Administration.

Days after the U.S. invasion, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told a congressional panel that Iraqi oil revenues would help pay for reconstructing the country, i.e. a cost of the war.

“The oil revenue of that country could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. We’re dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon,” he said.


P.S. Guess who was on America's TV sets this morning, explamacting around Libya?
~

Mr. Wonderful said...

The question of whether or not we ought to intervene in some other country, or in some other way, is an important foreign policy issue, but not an argument against intervention in Libya.

This is not so much a straw man argument as a straw man switcheroo. It's not even an "argument." The "question" of whether or not to do something is not an argument for or against anything. It invites the arguments.

It's like saying (thinks for ten minutes)... "Asking 'why do we need the designated hitter?' does not, in fact, persuade me that we do."

KWillow said...

I remember being gobsmacked at the suggestion that the Iraqi's would be forced to pay for Our Invading Them. Few people seemed to think that was insane. The opinion was the Iraqis would be simply thrilled at being bombed into the 19th century, slaughtered, and having their leader forcibly replaced with someone equally horrible. So thrilled that of course they'd be glad to pay the few Billions (Uh- make that Trillions)it would cost.

I could only marvel. It's as if 9/11 wasn't just a successful effort to bring down the World Trade Center, but also a massive "Stupid Bomb", which irradiated the entire country.

fish said...

What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?