Fallacies Regarding Doves, Iraq, And The Use of Military Force

Ezra Klein has written about the writings of liberal hawks to avoid admitting their mistakes on Iraq with a response from Kevin Sullivan which quotes heavily from John Kerry. Michael van der Galien weighs in (here and here) but inadvertently demonstrates the whole problem of speaking of hawks versus doves. Michael writes:

The problem with the doves is that they oppose using military force, because it is military force. For us hawks, military force is a tool – a tool you will only use when all other tools fail on you, but a tool nonetheless. I find it incredibly strange that there are people who want the US government, or individual candidates, to rule out (supporting) the use of force.

The first fallacy here is to define hawk and dove in a manner favorable to his own position and unfavorable to the opposing viewpoint when they do not accurately describe the views of those labeled. Doves would counter that they are willing to use force when needed, but that hawks turn to force before exhausting other remedies. In other words, doves could also quote John Kerry, including the passage linked above, his warnings that war should only be used as a last resort, and his pre-war warnings at Georgetown for George Bush not to rush to war.

In having both sides quote John Kerry we see the ultimate fallacy of declaring some people to permanently be hawks and the others doves. While perhaps true of some, for many it depends upon the particular circumstances. Currently dove might be applied to those who oppose the Iraq war, while those in support are considered hawks. This is misleading as many of us who opposed the Iraq war supported the war in Afghanistan, and part of our opposition included the fact that the war was a distraction from the more important war against al Qaeda following the 9/11 attacks. Are those of us who supported one war and opposed another hawks, doves, or just sensible individuals?

Even looking at Iraq, it wasn’t an absolute question of hawks versus doves. Before the war John Kerry and Howard Dean, despite all the pollitical posturing of the primaries, held essentially the same view. Both argued that if Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which threatened us, or if he refused to allow the inspectors in, we should use force. Once the inspectors were allowed back in, and no evidence was found of WMD, both opposed going to war based upon the conditions actually in effect. Howard Dean’s position was labeled dove, partially as he did not have to vote on the WMD and many did not know of his support for a similar resolution. John Kerry was initially described by the media as an “ant-war candidate” but this changed when Dean’s political campaign was successful in distorting the view of the IWR into being a litmus test on support for the war.

Regardless of the politics, the fact remains that both Democrats had essentially the same position. Both were willing to support going to war under some circumstances, and both realized that going to war in Iraq during the final lead up to the war would be a mistake.

Labels such as hawk and dove simply fail to describe the views of many individuals, and when used it is a mistake to claim that doves “oppose using military force, because it is military force.” Statements such as this belittle all the arguments used against going to war, which is especially erroneous considering the degree to which the events which have unfolded have proven us right.

Democrats Right In Denying Fox Legitimacy As A News Organization

We’ve come to expect right wingers like Tim Russert to echo the Republican Party line on debates, but it was disappointing to see a moderate site give some credibility to their memes. In discussing the boycott of debates hosted by Fox News, Joe Gandelman writes:

While those who advocate nixing Democratic debates list some intriguing reasons why, hopefully they also can see this decision’s potential impact — and the precedent. Some non-Fox types will conclude that the Democrats are afraid of getting tough questions in hostile territory (this is similar to all the Presidential candidates that now only invite blogs that they feel are already on their own side — “friendly blogs” — in on conference calls). And the stage is now set for in some future year Republicans refusing to debate on MSNBC or CNN.

It’s not a good precedent for candidates to pick and choose which networks they will appear on for debates. Unless we want totally polarized news media as well (and some will argue we are getting there…).

The decision not to give Fox News legitimacy by allowing them to cover a debate has absolutely nothing to do with avoiding tough questions. There are plenty of conservatives working for the other networks if that was the concern. Fox News should be avoided as in the past they have utilized such coverage not only to attack what is said, as opposed to providing objective coverage, but to also distort the Democrats’ message. If they responded with honest disagreement then there could be a source of dialog. Instead they concentrate on what Taylor Marsh accurately describes as “cheap shot theatrical diatribes.”

The problem is also misrepresented in raising a Republican refusal to debate on MSNBC or CNN as analogous. While MSNBC has improved with the addition of Keith Olbermann, this is the network which had moved so far to the right that not long ago they had a quota system to ensure that there were more conservative guests than liberal ones. They still have people like Joe Scarborough to keep the debates conservative friendly. CNN moved dramatically to the right since sold by Ted Turner, with people like Wolf Blitzer pushing the Republican line.

There is another fundamental difference. NBC and CNN are news organizations with a conservative bias, but this bias is not universal in their news. In contrast, Fox has crossed the line where they should not be considered a news organization at all. Fox was established specially to promote one party’s agenda and this agenda dominates both their commentary and news. Fox News should be considered in the same class as right wing talk radio or Air America, not CNN or MSNBC. When the Republicans hold a debate on Air America, the Democrats should consider returning to debate on Fox.

Tony Blair Criticizied For Knowledge Of Lack Of Post War Plans

Even though support for the war continues to fall to new lows it often appears that the British are well ahead us in publicizing the specifics of what went wrong.  For example, while it only verified what other witnesses had already stated, it took the English to publicize some of the confirmatory evidence that George Bush had planned to go to war against Iraq during the time when he was claiming to be seeking a diplomatic settlement in public. The Downing Street Memos also demonstrated the intent to manipulate information to promote the war.

There have also been many accounts of Bush’s lack of a post-war plan to stabilize the country in the United States, but this is currently receiving more attention in Great Britain. At one point there was the belief that Tony Blair’s partnership with George Bush would have provided a voice of sanity, but we see another example of Blair’s failure to keep Bush under control:

Tony Blair agreed to commit British troops to battle in Iraq in the full knowledge that Washington had failed to make adequate preparations for the postwar reconstruction of the country.

In a devastating account of the chaotic preparations for the war, which comes as Blair enters his final full week in Downing Street, key No 10 aides and friends of Blair have revealed the Prime Minister repeatedly and unsuccessfully raised his concerns with the White House.

He also agreed to commit troops to the conflict even though President George Bush had personally said Britain could help ‘some other way’.

The disclosures, in a two-part Channel 4 documentary about Blair’s decade in Downing Street, will raise questions about Blair’s public assurances at the time of the war in 2003 that he was satisfied with the post-war planning. In one of the most significant interviews in the programme, Peter Mandelson says that the Prime Minister knew the preparations were inadequate but said he was powerless to do more…

Opponents of the war, who have long claimed that the Pentagon planned a short, sharp offensive to overthrow Saddam Hussein with little thought of the consequences, claimed last night that the programme vindicated their criticisms. Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, told The Observer: ‘These frank admissions that the Prime Minister was aware of the inadequacies of the preparations for post-conflict Iraq are a devastating indictment.’

Doctor Who: Utopia

Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you plan to watch this week’s episode in the future. The torrents have enough seeds for a relatively fast download for those of us in the US who don’t want to wait until SciFi Channel broadcasts the third season this summer.

After three outstanding episodes, I thought this would turn out to be just a run of the mill trip to the future story. The first clue that this would be something special was to not only have Captain Jack return, but to find out how he escaped from the Daleks and what he has become. There was even more reminiscing about Rose, as Martha finds that she has to compete with a memory of a blonde. On top of it, we got to see the end of time–even if The Doctor was wrong that no Time Lord had ever been there before. And yes, The Doctor even uses the word “blog.”

The analogies between The Professor and The Doctor were also clear, up to The Professor having his own companion. It wasn’t until later that it became clear that Professor Yana’s name was an acronym for Boe’s dying message to The Doctor: You Are Not Alone. Not only does this episode tie into the stories of Captain Jack, Rose, and Boe, but also utilizes the same protective measure The Doctor used in Human Nature, as well as the season long references to Mr. Saxon.

We find that The Professor has his knowledge of science as he is really The Master, having become human to escape the fate of the other Time Lords, with his identity stored in a watch just as The Doctor’s was in Human Nature. The episode concludes with The Master stealing the Tardis and regenerating. This provides one of the best cliff hangers of all time. The Doctor, Martha, and Captain Jack are fighting off the cannibal race of Futurekind without the Tardis, while The Master is traveling back to modern day England to exercise power as Mr. Saxon. Maybe we’ll even learn about the fate of the last surviving humans who believe they are heading towards Utopia.

I have four guesses as to how The Doctor escapes from the end of the universe in the distant future:

  1. The Doctor has rigged up a way to get The Tardis to return for him
  2. The Doctor fixes Captain Jack’s Vortex Manipulator and they jump back in time
  3. The Master’s Tardis, complete with working chameleon circuit, stuck near The Master, even if he didn’t realize it was there.
  4. The Doctor takes Martha out to The Restaurant At The End of The Universe and they hitch a ride home with Arthur Dent.

We have three immortal characters, a regeneration scene, the end of the universe, the usual chase scenes, and so many loose ends from previous episodes all tying together. While perhaps not as good as the previous three episodes which set an extremely high bar, this episode has turned out to be another great one.