Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dead End Debates

I actually have not had a chance to read this from Victor Davis Hanson, but I often find that he's a thoughtful intelligent writer with prescient things to say on the state of affairs, so I figured I'd share in the assumption that this article is the same.


At 1:44 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Well, despite over-reliance on the word "weary" to describe these oh so very tiring debates on annoying things like the cost of war, I give Hanson credit for laying out a thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion on Iran.

But I take issue with this:

So we know the nature of these weary debates. Both sides offer reasonable arguments. Fine. But let us not fool ourselves any longer that each subsequent "exposé" and leak by some retired general, CIA agent, or State Department official — inevitably right around publication date — offers anything newer, smarter, or much more ethical in this dark era that began on September 11. No need to mention the media's "brave" role in all this, from the flushed-Koran story to the supposedly "deliberate" American military targeting of journalists.

Ridding the world of the Taliban in Afghanistan after the attacks on the United States was as necessary as it was daunting — especially given Afghanistan's primordial past, the rise of Islamic fascism, and that creepy neighborhood that has so plagued past invaders.

First, let's stay on topic. The generals that Hanson questions aren't talking about Afghanistan. No one, save for some extreme peaceniks, would argue that Afghanistan was a mistake. I certainly wouldn't.

It's Iraq that's the problem - and here's my problem with Hanson's reasoning: it's the same old argument of "there's new information coming out about this all the time, so it's impossible to know what the truth is, or who's right." That's a dangerous argument to me, because it effectively argues that no one who isn't actively engaged in combat or privy to intelligence can criticize anything with any degree of effectiveness, or just plain effect.

In other words, it's the "well, if you're so gung-ho for the war, why aren't you fighting in it" argument, reframed to dismiss criticism.

The relative merits of the claims of these retired generals aside (and I find the act of selling a book-as-criticism in this context vaguely unappetizing), that's an argument I can't get behind, be it liberal or conservative making it.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

I hear you, and am inclined to agree.

I think his concern is (and I think he's rightly concerned) that there are so many problems on the horizon and we spend more time looking over our proverbial shoulder than focusing on how the future problems are going to be addressed.

Criticism is good and necessary. But it should not paralyze us into affirmatively dealing with future threats.

The two should not be, hopefully, mutually exclusive.


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