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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Oddest Justification Yet for the Iraq Invasion

In his August 5 WSJ op ed, Bret Stephens argues that, "The war in Iraq is over. We've won." (He has in mind the low troop fatalities.)

We can argue whether or not that is accurate, and whether or not he might look foolish in 12 months. (Remember the "Mission Accomplished" fiasco.) But the real contribution is his list of reasons why the invasion was a success:

Here's a partial list: Saddam is dead. Had he remained in power, we would likely still believe he had WMD.

Is anyone else amused/horrified by that second reason for invading another country? Rather than, "Oh my goodness, we killed a bunch of people on the basis of bad intelligence!" Stephens has turned it into, "Phew! We killed a bunch of people, but at least we corrected our bogus intelligence."

8 comments:

  1. Bob, did you like Stephens' July 1 "Global Warming as Mass Neurosis" piece? I took a whack at it here.

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  2. I'm not sure I saw that one. I thought I did, but your quotations didn't sound familiar, so maybe I didn't.

    Anyway, I think you are being a bit coy yourself, in pretending you have no idea what he is talking about. There are obviously plenty of anti-capitalists who are seizing on the climate change hysteria (yes hysteria) in order to push their anti-capitalist views.

    Recognizing that fact doesn't prove the IPCC is wrong, of course--just like the obvious truth that oil companies might fund "deniers" doesn't prove the IPCC is right.

    But you're acting as if you have no idea what Stephens is talking about.

    Also, you're acting as if the science is settled, and I don't think it is. Especially if by "science" we mean: "It is beyond a reasonable doubt that if we don't seriously reduce carbon emissions within the next 20 years, hundreds of millions of people will die from human-induced climate change."

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  3. Bob, thanks for reading my comments on Stephens.

    Sorry, but I have to disagree; far from being coy when I attack the "AGW is a religious belief" because-it-is-espoused-by deluded "watermelon (green on outside, red on inside) enviro-fascists who-want-to-take-over-the world" meme, I don't mind acknowledging that there are some such people - and I have many times so acknowledged. But they hardly run the world. Nor do such self-deluded people comprise all of the scientists whose work is summarized by the IPCC, the national academies of science that agree, the leaders of 187 nations that signed the UNFCC and who approve the IPCC summaries, business leaders, think tanks like AEI, defense and intelligence analysts or the religious leaders who all express concern, are engaging in private action and who support regulatory changes.

    Bret's argument - one that I have seen repeatedly at Mises (I encourage you to take a deeper look) - is, at its best, a clever sleight of hand that addresses only exaggerated demons while ignoring the vast bulk of the serious world that is concerned about clikate change. It its worse, his argument reflects (and projects) the very self-delusion and lack of reason that he decries.

    Where do I "act as if the science is settled", much less in the strawman manner you offer? Our climate is immensely complicated, and no scientist says that they understand it all. But it's clear that many of them are very worried, and that their worries are shared by many, many business leaders.

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  4. Tom,

    OK sorry. I thought Stephens was attacking alarmism, but you're right, I went back and reread his piece, and he's convinced the whole thing is now discredited.

    So I agree with you, that that is too strident a position to take right now.

    What I had in mind, though, when I accused you of saying the science is settled, is quoting the academies of science, leaders of the free world, Stephen Hawking, etc. etc., as if it's the WSJ editorial board, and the LvMI, versus Science itself. And that's not true.

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  5. Bob, it seems that you're still reading me too hastily on what I was saying about the science.

    My final paragraph of that post was not addressed to Stephens/WSJ but to Chris Horner/CEI, to who I say the following:

    "it seems that Horner carries this too far, by an implicit assumption that all of those concerned about climate change are a "cult" with views that are not rational, and that this is rather obvious in the face of a recent break in some of the warming. Horner concludes that the Warmers are engaged in mental gymnastics of the types exhibited by cult followers: "As a meteorologist colleague commented to me last night about a recent manifestation of precisely this, 'these people are no different than the guys sitting around waiting for the spaceship.'" Oh, really? The National Academies of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, every other nation's academy of science, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Schelling and now Exxon and AEI - all waiting for the spaceship???"

    I was making the point that Horner, like Stephens, prefers to dodge addressing the obviously rational, in favor of an attack on the purported irrationality of a few.

    In other words, "skeptics" like Stephens and Horner are obviously playing mind games of their own - of a sufficient scale that one must wonder if they are really fooling themselves.

    This is quite different from arguing that the "science is settled".

    ReplyDelete
  6. Bob, it seems that you're still reading me too hastily on what I was saying about the science.

    My final paragraph of that post was not addressed to Stephens/WSJ but to Chris Horner/CEI, to who I say the following:

    "it seems that Horner carries this too far, by an implicit assumption that all of those concerned about climate change are a "cult" with views that are not rational, and that this is rather obvious in the face of a recent break in some of the warming. Horner concludes that the Warmers are engaged in mental gymnastics of the types exhibited by cult followers: "As a meteorologist colleague commented to me last night about a recent manifestation of precisely this, 'these people are no different than the guys sitting around waiting for the spaceship.'" Oh, really? The National Academies of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, every other nation's academy of science, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Schelling and now Exxon and AEI - all waiting for the spaceship???"

    I was making the point that Horner, like Stephens, prefers to dodge addressing the obviously rational, in favor of an attack on the purported irrationality of a few.

    In other words, "skeptics" like Stephens and Horner are obviously playing mind games of their own - of a sufficient scale that one must wonder if they are really fooling themselves.

    This is quite different from arguing that the "science is settled".

    ReplyDelete
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