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Saturday, March 25, 2006

New at LRC

I take on the wingnuts again.

Excerpt:
5) Sure, invading Iraq was a mistake, but now that we’re in there, we’ve got to finish the job.

On July 2, 1881, U.S. President James A. Garfield was shot by an assassin in Washington. The second bullet that struck him had lodged in his back, and his team of doctors could not locate it. They were persistent fellows though, and they continued to probe their fingers and various instruments around in the wound, hunting for the little bugger. At one point they even called in Alexander Graham Bell for help.

The doctors no doubt operated under the motto, "Now that we’re in there, we’ve got to finish the job." Unfortunately, what they were finishing was President Garfield. The bullet itself presented no serious health risks, but the doctors’ efforts to assist him were continually infecting and traumatizing their patient. On September 19, 1881, after over two months of "treatment," Garfield died. The doctors, with the annoying patient out of the picture, were no doubt then able to find the bullet and "finish the job."

4 comments:

  1. Good article Gene, though I wish you had spelled out just why the fifth argument was bad (besides the Garfield analogy). Also, I think there's a mistake in section 3), where you say "The first difficulty with our second contention..." Do you mean the third contention?

    Anyway, you raised a fascinating point here:

    However, the fact that prior to the war the masses had not risen to overthrow the Ba’athists, a revolution that ought to have succeeded if as many as 100,000 Iraqis were willing to die for its victory, suggests that the price for removing Hussein’s regime was higher than they were willing to pay to achieve that result.

    I'm not sure that's a valid argument. Even if every single Iraqi would rather have a revolution that overthrew Saddam and killed 100,000 randomly chosen Iraqis, it wouldn't follow that the revolution would occur. For one thing, what if all the Iraqis believed they were in the minority, and that most loved Saddam? There might be other problems with your argument, but I think that's a fatal one right there.

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  2. Yeah, I wanted to leave the fifth one as "The rest is left for the reader to work out on his own."

    As far as your point about the 100,000 goes, that why I said "suggests," not "proves."

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  3. Well, I'm not trying to be a jerk ("But you're so good at it, Bob!"), but what I'm saying is that maybe it doesn't suggest that, at all. I think it's possibly a gross mistake to suppose that you can extrapolate from individual preferences into what 10 million people "would do" and then to take failure of such action as any indication at all of whether those preferences exist or not.

    For a clear analogy that might not be very analogous: It would be wrong to say "the fact that most Americans voted for either Bush or Kerry suggests that most Americans thought these two men were the best for leading the country."

    A closer analogy that isn't as clearly wrong: "The fact that the Free State Project hasn't been successful yet suggests that there aren't 100,000 Americans who would move to a small state if it meant the realization of their libertarian dreams."

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