Peder D4

Discussion of politics and other odious things

Monday, January 15, 2007

Thank you

Every so often I stumble across a post that crystalizes something that's been rattling around my head for the last few month. One such post is here:

Now, of course, I supported the war, so I can be expected to say something like what I am about to say. My only excuse is that I have been thinking hard about this, trying to pick out what went wrong, and I think that I am willing to admit where I was wrong. I was wrong to impute too much confidence to my ability to interpret Saddam Hussein's actions; I was wrong to not foresee how humiliating Iraqis would find being liberated by the westerners who have been tramping around their country, breaking things for their own reasons and with little regard for the Iraqi people, for several hundred years. I was wrong to impute excessive competence to the government--and not just the Bush administration, but to any government occupation.


This has not convinced me of the brilliance of the doves, because precisely none of the ones that I argued with predicted that things would go wrong in the way they did. If you get the right result, with the wrong mechanism, do you get credit for being right, or being lucky? In some way, they got it just as wrong as I did: nothing that they predicted came to pass. It's just that independantly, things they didn't predict made the invasion not work. If I say we shouldn't go to dinner downtown because we're going to be robbed, and we don't get robbed but we do get food poisoning, was I "right"? Only in some trivial sense. Food poisoning and robbery are completely unrelated, so my belief that we would regret going to dinner was validated only by random chance. Yet, the incident will probably increase my confidence in my prediction abilities, even though my prediction was 100% wrong.

That's how I feel too. I remember there being little to no dispute over whether Saddam had WMD. That didn't require lies from the Bush administration; it was the overwhelming belief of both sides. I don't remember predictions of sectarian civil war. If they were made, they weren't prominent.
My side of the argument was wrong about a number of things and that erodes my trust in the decisions that are made from the same set of judgements. But I don't really have any more confidence in the other side either. They can keep there 'blood for oil' theories and their freudian psychology. I don't trust a group of pacifists with foreign policy.


Blogger Pacifist Viking said...

Here's the other side that is being ignored in this post:

We shouldn't get into war because we simply don't know the results. We can't predict what will happen; it could be very bad. Since we can't know or predict, and since wars often come with unforeseen negative results, and since wars always involve destruction and killing, and since humanitarian disasters and atrocities of many sorts are almost always a part of war, and since war is very costly, war is almost always something we should not do. War is a worst case scenario: people suffer and die, and so if you can avoid a war, you should.

You don't have to predict the correct bad things to be "right" about saying we shouldn't go to war. You don't have to make accurate bad predictions. That's part of being anti-war: we don't know what might result, but we see from history the results are almost always quite awful.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Pacifist Viking said...

I mean, do you really see it as a contest to see who can make the right predictions?

We're talking about war: people suffer and die. The side that wants to bring about suffering and death needs to make the right predictions; the side that wants to avoid suffering and death just needs to argue that the pro-war side is wrong.

I see it as a criminal case: the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and the defense doesn't have to prove it is right, it just needs to prove there is doubt in the prosecution's case.

That the pro-war side was wrong led to a disaster; that the anti-war side was wrong doesn't really matter, since it wasn't the anti-war's responsibility to show why war was unnecessary.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Pacifist Viking said...

(the fourth paragraph I left out):

If a party wishes to engage in a war, it is that party's responsibility to show that war is absolutely necessary. Given that suffering and death are an inherent aspect of war, the case for war must be convincing. The anti-war party doesn't have to make correct predictions of what war will lead to; it is the anti-war party's responsibility to show that war is unnecessary. The reason is that the pro-war party wishes to engage in a war, and if it is wrong, the result will be disastrous. The anti-war party is merely arguing that not going to war is a better scenario than going to war.

And an addendum:

Sorry, I don't wish to start anything: as I am a pacifist on policy, I also attempt to be a pacifist in personal communications, and avoid animosity and conflict. But as you do not trust pacifists on foreign policy, I do not trust pro-war people on foreign policy: I've seen the results, and they are quite bad.

8:34 PM  

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