2008 September 27 Saturday
Megan McArdle: Persuadable Voters Crazy
Voters whose minds are not made up do not like the existing Iraq war but are excited by the idea of attacking Iran.
CNN has a running poll of "persuadable" voters which shows up as a sort of red, green and blue ekg on the bottom of the screen--though only, I'm told, for those who are viewing in HD. It's completely mesmerizing. So far I've learned: McCain talking about Iraq is not popular (though mostly that's "persuadable" Democrats dragging down the average). But McCain bashing Iran is like one of those third world dictators who win with 99.4% of the vote.
Conclusion: "persuadable" voters are crazy people who don't like the war we have, but want to start another one just in case that one's more fun.
Do these people only learn the hard way? Or do they think we'll just bomb Iran and they like bombing wars?
Remember, once the United States commits to some country the leaders who made the original decision have a hard time reversing it because admission of failure is something most leaders are either very averse or extremely averse to. Reagan could pull out of Lebanon. But Bush Jr. can't pull out of Iraq and McCain feels just as bound to this mistake as a Senator.
If only Reagan was still President maybe he'd attack Iran to give himself political cover for pulling out of Iraq. Whether Reagan attacked Grenada to give himself political cover to pull out of Lebanon is debated by historians. But if a decision could be made to attack Iranian nuclear facilities in exchange for pulling out of Iraq would that deliver a net benefit?
See Lawrence Auster, though he isn't a persuadable voter.
He thinks going to war with Iraq was the correct thing to do. Our mistake was that we didn't destroy the place and leave. If we had destroyed the place and left, then we would have sent an effective message to rogue nations which want nuclear weapons.
Now, he wants us to go to war with Iran. I think we are supposed to destroy the place and and leave. If we do go to war with Iran and catastrophe ensues, he will of course say he was right all along, that we are in a bad situation because we didn't destroy the place and leave.
"But if a decision could be made to attack Iranian nuclear facilities in exchange for pulling out of Iraq would that deliver a net benefit?"
Why not? One of the arguments for staying in Iraq is that, if we leave, Iran would have too much influence. But if we bomb Iran back into the stone age, then that problem is solved.
Our problem is the invade-and-immediately-leave approach is beyond the pale because we are supposed to be spreading democracy. The neoconservative war hawk dreamers want us to believe we possess the universal balm and it is our responsibility and destiny to spread it to all the world's downtrodden.
My guess is that the neocon war hawks present this argument in order to try to make Americans think that invasions further the highest American ideals. World quest for freedom and democracy.
As a consequence limited interventions end up being off the plate. We gotta spend $150 billion per year and lots of lives lifting the Iraqis up into Jeffersonian Democracy.
> we are supposed to be spreading democracy
Randall, if you learned some history, you'd know that this "spreading democracy" started with Woodrow Wilson, and ultimately resulted in over 150 million people dead. This democratization by murder keeps killing in this century. Million dead Iraquis and counting, yeah?
> We gotta spend $150 billion per year and lots of lives lifting the Iraqis up into Jeffersonian Democracy.
Oh, really? How about lifting US from the soft-fascism we have today to Jeffersonian Democracy?
By the way, Jefferson was against foreign adventures. Don't they teach that in the schools? I guess not.
"I am for free commerce with all nations, political connection
with none, and little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am
not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of
Europe, entering that field of slaughter to preserve their
balance, or joining in the confederacy of Kings to war against
the principles of liberty." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry,
"We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country,
nor with the general affairs of Europe." --Thomas Jefferson to
C. W. F. Dumas, 1793.
"Nothing is so important as that America shall separate herself
from the systems of Europe, and establish one of her own. Our
circumstances, our pursuits, our interests, are distinct. The
principles of our policy should be so also. All entanglements
with that quarter of the globe should be avoided if we mean that
peace and justice shall be the polar stars of the American
societies." --Thomas Jefferson to J. Correa de Serra, 1820.
"No one nation has a right to sit in judgment over another."
--Thomas Jefferson: Opinion, 1793.
First off, I was not saying I believed the neocon spread-democracy argument makes any sense. Second, I am quite familiar with Wilson's views.
You assume that if people disagree with you then they must be ignorant on some point. That's not a fair assumption.
You also see disagreement where in some cases there is none. I do not think the Middle East can be lifted up into Jeffersonian democracy.
>If only Reagan was still President maybe he'd attack Iran to give himself political cover for pulling out of Iraq.
I know this is an old post, but I love the fact that you can make comments like this.
You know exactly what you believe and why you believe it. You are willing to admit that something horrible happening might end up doing good. You don't bother deluding yourself with black-and-white thinking, and so you see angles to stories that other people wouldn't. I find your complacency to a lot of awful things repugnant, but I can still come here for a dose of (mostly) unfiltered truth. Something you don't find a lot of in the human world.
It's so much easier to know how you feel about things when you don't filter incoming information.
"If only Reagan was still President maybe he'd attack Iran to give himself political cover for pulling out of Iraq"
Hmmm, Iran is simply not another Irak. Iran is an important commercial partner for Russia and China. Iran's population is religiously homogeneous (94%)-unlike Irak's- so it would be really hard to find inside Irani allies for the U.S. Therefore I don't see a U.S. invation of Iran at this point.
A U.S. attack on Iran can only be a missile or air force attack. Of course attacking Iran would be an idiocy greater than the unfinished adventures in Irak and Afghanistan. It would very easily become nuclear; it would very easily escalate globally. Since Iran is not a military threat to the U.S. nor is there any evidence that there are any WMDs, I really hope that the U.S. population can bring politicians into their senses soon, but the American people have lost all hope in themselves.
Regarding Ronald Reagan, I'm glad he's not in office right now, otherwise he could easily rush the world into oblivion believing the whole thing is another kick-ass hollywood movie.
"But if we bomb Iran back into the stone age, then that problem is solved."
Let's hope -for the sake of the species- that the world leaders don't have this kind of childish simplicity when viewing world issues, like the one Half Sigma displays here.
Careful what you wish for, Half Sigma; you might just get it...
The truth is ugly. Or at least the truth feels ugly in most minds. That is very unfortunate.
I do not think like most people. I'm willing to think that ugly things are true. I'm also willing to not go along with the crowd.
I can remember the moment when I decided that I must think thru things that made me uncomfortable. I can't remember how old I was, probably 13 or 14. But I remember the moment I decided that I had to learn things that were upsetting. At the time I was very curious about religious beliefs and science. I found what I was learning literally made me feel ill. But I decided I had to keep reading and keep thinking thru a question even when it was upsetting. Many of my views of today flow from that decision.
Complacency to a lot of awful things: Well, complacency beats the hell out of denial. It isn't clear to me what I'd do with a non-complacent attitude. There's no constructive course of action other than just writing up some observations. The vast majority live in delusion or ignorance or they are just too stupid to understand.