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7.2.03

Double posting about Iraq because I found an article via Flynn that helps to clarify my stance on the war (as requested in comments a few posts ago).
A Dove's Guide: How To Be An Honest Critic Of The War

Don’t, in summary, dress up moral doubt in the garb of wordlywise punditry. Give warning, by all means, of the huge gamble that allied plans represent, but if all you are talking is the probabilities, say so, and prepare to be vindicated or mocked by the outcomes. We are very quick to aver that Tony Blair will be discredited and humiliated if the war goes wrong. Will we be discredited and humiliated if the war goes right? If the basis of our objection was that the war would fail, that should follow.


My answer is yes. While I think the early steps of the war will succeed, I believe that in the long run an invasion of Iraq will have net negative consequences on the region. I'm no fan of the status quo, and like McDuff, I'd like to see hawks' predictions come true. Based on my best assessment of the situation in the middle east and our current leaders, however, I am more willing to place my bets on peace than on war. I'm prepared to swallow my pride if things turn out otherwise -- though I doubt the outcome will be so clear-cut, especially since we can't set up a "control group" parallel universe (until this war takes its place in myth alongside World War II and Vietnam). To put things in the language of the philosophy of science, my position on the war is falsifiable.

Matthew Parris, who wrote the above article, gives a powerful reminder about the implications of a realist objection to war and the need to be aware of whether that objection is a plausible facade for a different type of objection. The point could just as well be made to hawks -- are you prepared to admit the war was a bad idea if it fails? (The question is complicated, though, by the fact that both sides could agree on the facts of the post-war situation but disagree on whether the situation was a good one). But Parris lets his own certainty that the war will not fail lead him into urging doves to reject all appeals to things that might happen, conceding all of the "what if"s to the hawks. Instead, he holds a non-falsifiable position based on an even larger "maybe" than all the predictions of possible post-war chaos that he dismisses: the prospect of an American empire emerging to dominate the world. He undermines his own argument with his invocation of something that looks like a classic neo-Marxist world-system theory that is so nebulous that it's impossible to show it to be wrong.

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