Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Fourth Option

Last night I crashed the United Nations Association of Utah featuring guest speaker Jeff Laurenti on the important question of the continuing relevancy of the United Nations. Now that the neoconservative stab at unilateral pre-emptive action seems to have bogged down, there is great hope for a renewed United Nations. In my opinion, We need the UN now more than ever!!!! (UN Links).

Unfortunately, Mr. Laurenti's speaking style shows that, while the United Nations is a worthy effort deserving our support, we should also fear it.

How to put this?

If the United Nations sticks to the classical liberal ideals that served as the base of its charters, it can help provide peace. If, however, it continues to be controlled by clowns steeped in new think, then it will end up undermining Democracy, and will rip this world apart.

The United Nations is neither a necessarily good thing, nor is it a necessarily bad thing. The UN will end up being what the people active in the UN make it to be.

I know Mr. Laurenti from only one presentation. The online information I've found on the speaker shows that he has a great deal of influence through organizations like Ted Turner's UN Foundation, The Century Foundation and other extremely powerful organizations.

Mr. Laurenti presentation showed an absolute wealth of knowledge, but at every chance he could get he would pull underhanded dialectical slights of hand to move the argument to the left. I tried counting logical fallacies and tricks he pulled in his talk, but soon ran out of fingers and toes. Instead I will just concentrate on the trick that he pulled during the audience participation part of the speech.

In the audience participation gig, he took a poll. He told us that there were three ways that people can think about the war:

  • You could believe that the Iraq War was right , and we will somehow win.
  • You can believe that the war was right, but we did something wrong that is making it hard to win.
  • or you can believe that the decision to invade Iraq was wrong.

Notice the nasty trick? Anyone who has had elementary math knows that there is actually a fourth option. In standard math 2 squared is 4. It is not 3. By intentionally omitting the fourth option, Laurenti skillfully cut out the views held by a large number of classical liberals.

The fourth view is that invading Iraq was wrong, but that we can still win. By openly violating fundamental logic, Laurenti managed to cut out the classical liberals who probably have the best chance of dealing with Bush's mistake. BTW, Laurenti is guilty of exactly the same type of failed logic that led Bush to make the mistake of invading Iraq. Like Bush, Laurenti wraps his ideology in flawed logic in ways that I doubt even he can see through.

The fourth view is a little complex. The view holds that the conditions at the time an argument is made affects how one should approach the argument. For example, we were right to go to war with Germany in 1945, but we are not right to go to war with Germany today because conditions are different.

I think the US congress was correct when they approved the invasion of Iraq. In 2003, Congress was approving the use of the threat of war in diplomatic effort. They did not mandate war. The decision to invade happened primarily within the executive. Since the diplomatic effort was succeding, Bush's decision to invade was wrong. This decision stands at the top of the worst executive decisions made in the history of the United States.

After Bush made his historic blunder, the state of the world changed. After the invasion, we are in a world where we have to deal with Bush's mistake. The best way to deal with this mistake is to do everything in our power to help the new Iraqi government succeed. The best method for continuing is with open acknowledgement of the mistake, but with a continued commitment to democracy and freedom in Iraq.

Laurenti ignored the fourth option because he has the false premise that since a decision was a bad decision, it must fail. This really is not true. Quite frankly, even if Bush had been successful in squelching the sectarian violence in Baghdad, the decision he made to go to war was wrong. War was too great of a gamble.

History is a long sequence of people trying to recover from the bad decisions of their leaders. My faith has never been with the leaders, it is with the people of good character who muddle through the bad consequences of their leaders' idiocies.

Bush's bad decision has adversely affected the United States is a variety of ways. It's dramatically diminished American influence. It threw South America under the control of Hugo Chavez and what's left of Castro. Tens of thousands of people have been killed by jihadist thugs.

Yes, this is all fallout from one extraordinarily bonehead decision made in a back room by Rumsfeld, Bush and a cadre of neocons. We are now in a deep dark hole.

However, in this deep dark hole, we are finally in a position where we can start rediscovering the ideals that made Americans great. Our challenge is to keep those entities (neocon and progressive) that are still trying to stifle and manipulate the debate from achieving their ends.

The wanks from the right messed up. Flipping the world in the hands of the wanks on the left won't solve the problem because the two extremes of technocrats are the same thing. We need to relearn the process of discourse.

In a previous post, I put forward that the the proposal of a troop surge was a brilliant move on Bush's part (his presenting it as a done deal was a blunder). The proposal temporarily shifted debate from one of how the US should retreat to one about how we can help the Middle East move beyond the violent ideologies that are tearing it apart.

The proposal of a troop surge was a great strategy. I doubt that surging the troops would really do much.

The real challenge for the United States at this moment is getting the debate process back on track. The actual actions we take (short of retreat) is secondary.

Watching both Laurenti and Bush in action, I feel that the parties involved are destroying our ability to engage in discourse. We need fewer slick speakers involved in the process and more people who are good at muddling through in the shadows of bad decisions.

SIDE NOTE ONE: The UN Watch seems to share my opinions of Laurenti's speaking style.

END NOTE: I mentioned at the beginning of this post that there is an organization called the United Nations Association. A UNA is a non-government organization interested in the United Nations. There are UNA groups throughout the world. It is a great organization for people who are interested in world affairs. I have a list of UN and UNA resources on my links site.

This HotAir piece shows people engaged in the process of muddling through.


Scott Hinrichs said...

I can't understand why people can't see this for what it is. Today in 2007, it really doesn't matter why the heck we went into Iraq. The fact of the matter is that we're there. We need to move forward from that point.

We need to ask: do we want to succeed, or not? If yes, what is the best way to do that? If no, then it really doesn't matter, does it?

People make this same kind of mistake in their personal lives all the time. We all make mistakes and/or have unforeseen problems. Instead of obsessing about some past event or choice, the point is to start from where we are, figure out where we want to be, determine the best course for getting from the point A to point B, and then move ahead with the plan. We should do that in Iraq as well.

BTW, I would argue that Congress knew full well that Bush planned to invade at the time they voted for force. Instead of doing their constitutional duty and voting for or against declaring war, they wimped out and gave the executive authority to "use force." That allowed them to have their cake and eat it too. They could say they were tough on terror, but did not authorize going to war. What a bunch of ... politicians!

y-intercept said...

Odd, I posted a response to this comment, but it didn't take. Whether or not Bush was right or wrong in his decision should not be the deciding factor in how we proceed with the military effort.

It matters a great deal in future diplomatic efforts. Bush was extremely clumbsy in putting together the justification for the invasion. He tromped on both the United Nations Charter and the Powell Doctrine, which were put forward as the guiding doctrines of our military actions.

Bush squandered a great deal of political capital when he rushed the war through Congress. There are many things wrong with the UN. Bush bungled over the things that were right about the UN.. We have to figure out how to recover from that.

The fourth option, recognition that the decision to invade as it was made in 2003 was wrong, but that we are on a path where we must continue on the path of supporting the Iraqi people.

To put it another way. We won the military war, until we patch the damage done diplomatically, Iraq will be in a mess.

A neocon is a person who uses methodology of the left to achieve the goals of the right. The neocons in Bush's administration violated the ideals that were leading foreign policy. We have to recover those ideals in order to continue.