Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dear Jeb: The Iraq War Was Not A "Good Deal"

   Bush made a rhetorical/tactical error by using the phrase 'good deal.' Normally, it's be sophistical to exploit such a slip-up...except that this rhetorical/tactical error is a rhetorical/tactical error because that's exactly the measure we should be thinking about. We ought to ask about the costs and benefits of the Iraq war. Was it, in fact, a good deal? Well, there is simply no plausible way to argue that the war was worth it. The Iraq war did more harm to the U.S. than the 9/11 attacks. But that's not actually the important comparison. The important comparison is: the Iraq war did more net harm to the U.S. than any even vaguely plausible follow-up attack could have done. It was basically the worst thing we could have done in response to the attack. We would have been much, much, much better off piling up $2-3 dollars and setting it all on fire. We'd have been immeasurably better off doing nothing at all in response to 9/11. (And, for the record, I'm far from being a pacifist...) We would have--from a fairly crude utilitarian perspective--been better off having nuked a small American city ourselves.  

   The stupidity of the Iraq war basically cannot be exaggerated. My sympathies lie so strongly with the hapless Dems that I tend to torture myself most elections trying to see something I'm missing that might ought to nudge me farther in the direction of Republican candidates... But here's more-or-less a line in the sand for me: if a candidate won't admit that Iraq was a mistake, s/he's not even an option as far as I'm concerned. And not just a given-what-we-know-now mistake. Rather a damn-how-did-we-not-see-it-then? mistake. And that having been said...I now wonder whether Clinton's ever admitted that it's the latter, and not just the former...

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