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10.3.03

(politics post now, maybe some geography conference later)

The problem with public opinion is that it lacks subtlety. I don't mean that members of the public don't have nuanced views of things. I mean that the message our leaders recieve as "public opinion" is a caricature, a yes/no for/against response rather than an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to an issue. This is on my mind because I'm wondering how to describe myself once the war starts.

I can't call myself pro-war, because that would imply an endorsement of the Bush administration's conduct of the war, which -- and I hope he surprises me -- I don't expect to think very highly of. But I can't really call myself anti-war either, because that would imply that extricating ourselves from the war as soon as possible is better, which I don't believe. If we're going to do war, we ought to do it right. "the silent speaker" on the Brunching board said it well: "We can debate whether or not we should be throwing this punch, but the only thing throwing half a punch can result in is a broken wrist." In essence I have a dual-peaked preference -- I prefer no war over war, but I also prefer an effective war over a war compromised by misgivings and hesitation. The Afghanistan campaign would have gone better had we not been concerned that reports of American casualties would weaken domestic support, and thus held back on sending in ground troops. Then there's the issue of what goals I want the war to be effective in pursuing. I'd like to see Bush's stated goals -- the liberation of the Iraqi people, the encouragement of democracy in the Middle East, reducing our reliance on and stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia, the neutralization of whatever weapons Saddam has -- achieved. But there's no good way to communicate a message of "keep your word."

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