Friday, February 25, 2005

Deploying Logic Against A Stupid Argument

One of the objections to the Iraq war I hear a lot is, "But Saddam was supported by the U.S. under Reagan." Similar arguments, of the form "Regime X was supported by Administration Y back in the day, so Administration Z is being hypocritical to try and take out X," seem to pop up all the time. This is, frankly, silly. It surprises me that theoretically rational people make this argument. Realizing the likely futility of the excercise, I will nevertheless attempt to use logic to refute this spurious argument:

At a time t1, Y is forced to hold its nose and do business with X (whom it finds abhorent,) usually because it has bigger fish to fry (another more dangerous regime, more pressing domestic problems, or any of a number of different situations.) At time t2, the bigger fish has been fried and Z is free to deal with X the way Y would have preferred to earlier on.

In other cases, at t1 Y does business with X because it thinks X is more benign than it in fact is. At t2, when it comes out that X has been up to some pretty nasty stuff, Z decides to correct the mistake of supporting X, either removing its support or removing X.

Now, we live in a democracy. I know it's hard for some people to understand this, but the whole point of a democracy is that the government can be changed, and in fact is changed on a regular basis. This means that there are different people in power. People who think differently. People who have different ideas ... different ideas about, oh, say, what regimes to support, what regimes to undermine, and what regimes to remove. If the actions of a new administration were to be bound entirely by the policies of previous administrations, there wouldn't be much point in holding elections.

I can understand this being confusing to foreign countries which are used to kings or presidentes-for-life. After all, they haven't substantially changed policy (at least, not since the last coups), so what's up with this constant western flux? What strikes me is that people who have grown up in a democracy don't seem to get this fundamental fact about democracies: that new governments are elected so that the bad policies of the old governments can be changed. Let me be very clear about this: this means that the policies change. I know, I know, it's hard to get your head around it. This whole democracy thing is pretty new, after all. I mean, it's only, oh, hundreds of years old, so I can see why some people have problems understanding the principle.

If someone takes a shit in your living room, and the cabinets need dusting, you clean up the shit first. But you don't then say, "Well, I chose not to dust the cabinets before. So I geuss I'll just never dust them, because that would be an inconsistent domestic policy and would make me look foolish in the eyes of my housemates." Or maybe you do decide not to dust the cabinets ... but if you do you're going to have one seriously dirty house after a while.

6 Comments:

Blogger Decadent Leftist said...

Stupid to say that eh?

Maybe then it's just as stupid to say that anyone who opposed the war supported Saddam and hates "freedom".

Just a thought.

Also, when you have literally dozens of the same policy makers from regime X (and Y) now serving in high ranking governmental/advisory positions in regime Z, its kinda hard to take their claims of LURVVVVVV for the brotherhood of man seriously, as well as the fact that in some cases they just continue the policies from when they left (see Paul Wolfowitz as an example of this)

Seriously.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Decadent Leftist said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Decadent Leftist said...

Gave up on politics eh? Was i simply too smart for you? Were you afraid of being called on your bullshit in front of your online buddies once again?

Frowny Face. :-(

1:20 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

"Gave up on politics eh? Was i simply too smart for you? Were you afraid of being called on your bullshit in front of your online buddies once again?

Frowny Face. :-("

Spoken like a true troll. Your posturing is endlessly diverting. Please, feel free to continue (my friends are getting a kick out of your antics.)

1:41 PM  
Blogger The Terminator said...

"Your posturing is endlessly diverting."

Speak English!

These ubiquitous phrases cloud any coherency.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

Terminator: maybe, "Keep it up, I'm getting a kick out of your posturing," would have been better? Point taken, though. I have a tendency to write like an egghead, sometimes.

10:20 AM  

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