Wednesday, January 24, 2007


death by caricatures

Interesting post on the Corner just now, dealing with Sen. Webb's statement that “the majority of our military” does not support “the way this war is being fought,” and addressing his past statements about the lack of public support for the Vietnam War.

The “professional GOP web toiler” quoted in the post has the better of the argument versus Sen. Webb on the "majority" point. The poll showed a small level of support for the way the war is being fought, but it was non-scientific, and didn't show majority opposition.

The interesting part of the discussion comes in Sen. Webb's discussion of opposition to the Vietnam War. Webb wrote:
The majority of the American people never truly bought the antiwar movement’s logic. While it is correct to say many wearied of an ineffective national strategy as the war dragged on, they never stopped supporting the actual goals for which the United States and South Vietnam fought... [In Sept. 1972,] By a margin of 74 percent to 11 percent, those polled also agreed that “it is important that South Vietnam not fall into the control of the communists.”
This cannot be a surprise. Of course we would rather that South Vietnam not fall to communists-- they were our allies, and communism was bad. We'd all rather win than lose in Iraq, too. But you don't get to just check a box and win. The relevant issues are, (1) is our presence making things better for most Vietnamese/Iraqis, and, (2) is the cost that we are paying proportionate to the benefit to our national interests and the security situation in Iraq.

One common path to misguided opinions is to ground your own views in opposition to a straw man version of what you perceive your political opponents to believe. Another is to learn one lesson from one moment in history, and perceive every single moment thereafter as a reenactment of that precise moment.

The fact that some people opposed the Iraq War or the Vietnam War for unsound reasons (ie, anything the US does is always wrong, or Bush is just as bad as Saddam, or the Magic 8-Ball said so) does not mean that the best arguments against the war should not be engaged. Who cares what the noisy, or fantasized, or caricatured antiwar activists have to say? They have roughly zero public impact in this country.

All that administration apologists want to talk about now is the downside of failure. Woulda been worth considering five years ago.

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