I have grown so weary of stupid arguments that I have little patience for them any more. I just read one today where a guy insisted that bin Laden's recent message was an attempt to determine if Americans are his enemy or just the American government. Stupid arguments like that make me laugh, but I feel compelled to address them if only to prevent them from going unchallenged.
Apparently Beldar has had enough
too, because he posted a lengthy rant about stupid arguments today.
"By invading Iraq," they say, "President Bush has caused more terrorists." For example, I just saw a blogad pimping a new book with a blurb from a WaPo review by Richard Clarke that gushes, "[Jonathan] Randal makes a convincing case that the U.S. war on Iraq has needlessly extended the lifetime and ferocity of this generation of terrorists as never before." I haven't read Mr. Randal's book, and neither do I plan to waste the time or money to do so, because I already understand his "convincing case," and I know what it amounts to:
Rubbish and balderdash.
Radical Islamic extremists are not like poison ivy — "don't scratch it, it'll only get worse!" The necessary premise of this argument is, "If we'd only — (choose one or more) — (a) let them alone, (b) treat them with due respect, (c) allow them to drive Israel into the sea, then they wouldn't keep flying airplanes into our buildings, blowing up school busses, kidnapping and beheading civilians, etc."
What irritates me most about arguments like this is that they cheapen the debate.
There is plenty of room in our country to have genuine disagreements about how our government should be run and what it should be doing. Social issues, tax issues, administrative issues, foreign policy, whatever the issue is, there is ample room for disagreement, but when stupid arguments are advanced, the real
issues that we need to resolve go unattended. That's why the furor over the "380 tons" of explosives is so infuriating to me.
First of all, it's incredibly naive to think that a President of the United States would even concern himself with the details of what happended to 0.06% of the explosives and ammunition in Iraq. Leaders set direction, build vision, establish policy. They do not concern themselves with the details of how things get done. With regard to the explosives situation, President Bush would have addressed it by asking Rumsfield to ask the generals to develop a plan for dealing with the problem of explosives in Iraq, if
he was even aware of the problem. He would never
have said, "Don't forget the RDX and HMX at Al Qaa Qaa." That's just not the way it works. Even Tommy Franks would have simply delegated that issue to trusted subordinates.
Furthermore, screaming "incompetence" when you're completely ignorant of the details of a situation is not only counterproductive but insulting. How would you
feel if your supervisor blamed you for something when he wasn't even certain if anything had gone wrong? That's exactly what is being done now by those who are crying "incompetence!". They're accusing the troops on the ground, the brave soldiers who defend our freedom, and their leaders, the captains, and majors who lead them on the missions, of failing to properly carry out their orders. George Bush wasn't in Iraq. The soldiers were. If explosives were left unguarded, George Bush is not the one who is incompetent. The soldiers and their leadership are.
Before you accuse the military of this country of incompetence, shouldn't you at least
have all the facts before you? Right now we don't even know how much
explosive material was in al Qaa Qaa. Reports place the amount between 3 tons and 380 tons. That alone should be sufficient cause to shut up until all the facts are in.
But facts and evidence don't matter to many today. Scoring points do.
UPDATE: If you aren't up on all the latest having to do with the explosives story, Tom Maguire does a pretty good job
of touching all the bases.