Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting an Early Start on Fighting the Last War

I keep running across people piling on the F-22 because it hasn't been used in Iraq or Afghanistan, and because it's no help in "today's asymmetrical wars" and so forth. (I saw Barney Frank and Rachel Maddow cackling about this two nights ago, for example.) Now, I'm more anti-F-22 than pro-, I think it should be obvious to everyone that we need a leaner and more realistic defense budget, and so forth. Believe my non-pro-F-22 credentials are in order.

But for chrissake people, there is no reason to think that every war from here on will be against al Qaeda or some similarly pathetic bunch of Neanderthals.

This is the most obvious kind of idiocy. One might point out that there aren't any credible threats that require the F-22--that's a fair point. (Su-35s and MIG-35s are basically for show.) Or you might point out that we'd be better off building Stealth Eagles, or F-35s, or fighter drones or whatever...

But you cannot rely upon an argument which has as a suppressed premise that we will never fight another war against a country with an actual air force.

People seem to be getting an early start on fighting the last war next time. (
Gosh, Mr. President, we didn't think we'd need air superiority fighters against China...I mean, we didn't need them in Afghanistan...)

But this is par for the course with many professional chatterers and cacklers. What's important is the conclusion, not the reasoning. F-22 bad? Well, then, use any argument which has 'F-22 bad' as it's conclusion! (We'll never fight another major war, so the F-22 is bad! The F-22 is made of candy, so the F-22 is bad! If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings, so the F-22 is bad!)

(Same thing always happens. Same thing happened with Iraq. The Iraq war was bad, so any old argument would do. You can't impose democracy at the point of a gun! (false. (See: WWII)); humanitarian interventions never work! (false.) We need more "realism" (i.e. anti-idealism, anti-humanitarianism, immoralism) in foreign policy! (false.). Violence never solved anything! (False. (See: American Civil War.)))

Thing is, when you let conclusions rather than premises govern your reasoning, adopting whatever premises will support the conclusion, then you become committed to the ad hoc premises you used. Then you raise the likelihood that the bogus premise will be used again. So if you reject the F-22 because it was not useful in a war against Medieval wackos living in caves, now you're committed to the principle that we should only build weapons that are useful against medieval wackos living in caves. A very dumb idea indeed.

Let's not get quite such an early start on fighting the last war next time.


Blogger The Mystic said...

I feel like the Geico caveman with you. Will you stop slandering Neanderthals, for goodness' sake? Equating al Qaeda with Neanderthals elevates the former and gravely insults the latter.

Maybe you're not proud of our man-tank brethren and their tragically doomed offshoot of humanity, but I am, damn it.


Furthermore, the idea that violence never solves anything is in fact valid when applied to homo sapiens sapiens and his relations with Neanderthals. If you engage in violence towards a Neanderthal, it will not solve anything for you unless you consider your own death to be a solution.


9:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The mirrored-sunglass crowd in the Air Force deep-sixed the very unglamorous but incredibly effective anti-insurgency machine, the A-10 Warthog. (it might still be around if the Army had been given the right to fly the thing).

11:15 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

That one was just for you. I originally wrote 'Cro-Magnon,' but then realized I was passing up an opportunity to reignite the Neanderthal wars.

Don't get me started on the A-10...

12:44 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Switching your slanderous tongue over to our direct ancestors isn't better! Next, you're going to argue that Cro-Magnons weren't any stronger than modern humans and again, I shall have to educate you so that the blatant racism ceases.

That's right. I said it.


3:12 PM  

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