Emotional releases are so cathartic!
Glenn Greenwald posts on the feigned innocence of the Iraq war cheerleaders.
Anyone who claims they didn't realize that an attack on Iraq could spawn mammoth civilian casualties, pervasive displacement, endless occupation and intense anti-American hatred is indicting themselves more powerfully than it's possible for anyone else to do. And anyone who claims, as Burns did, that they "could not know then" that these things might very well happen is simply not telling the truth. They could have known. And should have known. They chose not to.
They did not want to see anything that made them feel bad. It really is all about people's feelings. Megan McArdle's reasons for supporting the invasion of another country are ludicrous. They wouldn't convince a clever child. War supporters utterly ignored facts and reality and dissenting opinions. They did not make even the feeblest attempt to reason--it was emotion all the way: vanity, pride, anger. And it made them malicious and cruel. They didn't care what happened to the people actually fighting the war or the dubiousness of the merits of the war. "Either way," we have read over and over, murdering Iraqis was the better thing to do.
They thought about men with muscles and guns and it got them excited. They thought of the power; the foreign heathen bowing before American might, on his knees in terror, pleading for forgiveness.
They thought of bombs and explosions, of John Wayne and Bruce Willis, of "Ki-yi-yay, mother-fucker!" A war movie on tv every night, in which they are finally John Wayne, but still safe and fed and clean and surrounded by entertainment.
They thought of humiliating other nations. The French don't flatter Americans. They won't speak their language and they think that their culture is older, finer, better. That is heresy, and seeing France get "left behind in Old Europe" made them very happy.
They thought that whatever Americans do is right and good and for freedom and Mom and puppies. They thought of triumphing over Democrats, how humiliated they would be when they were proven wrong, how glorious Republicans would feel from being on the winning side. Past Republican failures at war would be forgotten and Republicans could take pride in their policies once again. And they thought no further.
No educated person is this stupid. They chose to believe what they wanted to believe, and they're still doing it. And after they make their knee-jerk decisions, their murderous mistakes, they pout and cry and tell you that you're hurting their feelings so shut up shut up shut up!
They might even throw a great big ole Pity Party.
Megan McArdle again, God help us: [From 2007]
Winning isn't everything
Julian Sanchez writes a reasonable response to my previous post on hawks and doves, at which point his commenters do their very best to demonstrate why hawks have such a hard time admitting they were wrong, even beyond the normal human instinct to deny that one ever can be mistaken.
1. I am a lying [expletive deleted] 2. I am a total moron who deserves nothing less than utter ridicule 3. It is not enough that people should not listen to me; I should voluntarily take myself out of the national discourse.
I'm not sure they got the point of my post or the spirit in which it was offered, so let me try again: Iraq is not a game. And it is not a high school debate tournament. The object of this discussion is not to find a winner, or see who scored the most points. Thousands and thousands of people have died. This is a little more serious than that.
I freely admit that the hawks were just as bad in promoting a juvenile tone to the debate before the war. But at least a few of us have learned how ridiculous we were being, something I am afraid I have not found on the dovish side.
So if all you are interested in is the psychic joy of hearing the words "You were right, I was wrong", you've got it. I was wrong. You can take that back to your bedroom, put it on the bookshelf, and fondle the trophy whenever you feel like it. Now please go away, because for me, this is not really about which of us has the bigger intellectual genitalia.
Human beings are really terrible decisionmakers. We cannot completely overcome our biases and our poor instincts. But at least we should try. (Robin Hanson's brilliant new blog is a great place to start.) Having admitted to myself, and everyone else, that the Iraq war was clearly in hindsight a bad idea, I am trying to go back and look at the decision and see how I could make it better in the future. The object is not to prove that I am a better and smarter person than those around me; the point now is to minimise the number of future bad decisions that make a lot of people die.
Judging from the behaviour of most of the doves in public discourse, that is not the most important thing. The most important thing for them seems to be exacting revenge on the hawks and declaring that the doves are now forever their moral and intellectual superiors, even though their nasty public invective ensures that the next time around, the hawks will be exactly as unwilling to listen to them as they were last time. Julian's commenters are certainly doing their best to put me in this camp.
But since I really do believe that better future decisions are more important than my umbrage at petty interpersonal exchanges, I am fighting to supress that urge. Among other strategies for analysing my decisionmaking, I look to the ways in which the dovish decisionmaking process worked better than mine, so that I can emulate those ways. And to me, I'm sorry if this hurts your tender little feelings, but as far as I can tell, it wasn't that much better. What many, or even most, of the doves had was an instinctive antipathy to American military action that is so closely bundled with a zillion other ideological predispositions, some of which to me seem practically self-evidently wrong, that I can't find a decisionmaking process to even analyse; the grounds for opposing the war shifted even as the opposition didn't. Let me make it thoroughly clear: the same shitty decisionmaking was evident on the side of the hawks. But trading one set of questionable propositions for another is not an improvement in decisionmaking; it's playing some sort of metaphysical Monty Hall game. And playing it badly.
The arrogance, the projection, the sheer stupidity on display here is almost beyond belief. Everything is All About Her and her feelings, so she accuses her enemies of doing everything she did, to avoid criticism or punishment. It's the simplest trick in the book, the oldest lie in the world. You mother asks you who ate the cake. You stand there with chocolate cake smeared all over your face and point to the dog, and say, "He ate the cake." And then you lecture your mother on the seriousness of her accusation.
A sane person would laugh at the absurdity of the lie. A Republican would beat the dog and give the kid more cake.