Saturday, July 22, 2006

Naivete, indeed (Weekend WOTD)

Andrew Sullivan is in some ways the most entertaining voice on the political scene. He is in turn insightful, insane, introspective and knee-jerk stupid.

On the whole the good Sully has been making more points than bad Sully lately, but today's post, "War and Naivete" is bad Sully resurgent. He quotes a reader's criticism of another post Sully implicitly endorsed criticizing the Iraq war, and Sybil Sully agrees with the criticism.
I'm angry at the unnecessary bungling of the war in Iraq, but the following caveats must be made:

a) there was no obvious, easy alternative that would have solved all our problems. A rapidly failing state in Iraq, hemmed in by sanctions and inherited by Saddam's psychopathic sons was not a recipe for success either...

But let's be precise here, because Sully has often fallen into this trap. (Not that he is the onoly one.) There are three different classes of problems being conflated here: problems, America's problems, and Sully's problems. Separating them is essential, and makes the errors here rather plain.

The (assumed, but not empirically verifiable) fact that Iraq was a failing state was a problem, but pre-invasion it was not America's problem. Reducing the threat of terrorism for Americans was clearly America's problem. But that threat was not ameliorated, and obviously could not be ameliorated, by invading Iraq. The fact that the war was bungled is unfortunate but irrelevant to that conclusion. And finally, the perceived need to kick somebody's butt -- anybody's -- in order to compensate for unacknowledged feelings of powerlessness... well, that was Sully's problem. (Of course it didn't happen because of Sully's tantrum. It happened because of the tantrums of more powerful but even less insightful men.)

And as long as he is as unwilling to acknowledge the extent to which such simple schoolyard psychology lit the fuse on this ongoing disaster, he will continue to periodically rise to WOTD status.


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