September 08, 2003

A Glass Half Full

If you turn on the news or look at the headlines in the newspaper box, the post-war reconstruction of Iraq looks like a failure.

Look more carefully. The Iraqi summer of 2003 is a violent one, but something wonderful and new is being born.

Here is Iranian journalist Amir Taheri:

Iraq is the only Arab country today where all political parties, from communist to conservative, operate freely. Visitors will be impressed by the openness of the political debate there, something not found anywhere else in the Arab world. Also, for the first time, Iraq has no political prisoners.

Almost 150 newspapers and magazine are now published there, offering a diversity not found in any other Arab country. One theme of these new publications is the need for democratization in the Arab world. This may be putting the cart before the horse. What Arabs, and Muslims in general, most urgently need is basic freedom, without which democracy cannot be built.

The impact of Iraq's liberation is already felt throughout the region.

Here are some interesting quotes.
"What we need is a space of freedom in which to think and speak without fear," says a leading Syrian economist. "Bashar knows that if he does not create that space, many Syrians will immigrate to Iraq and be free under American rule."
And this, from the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson:
"I decided to leave Iran and settle in Iraq where the Americans have created a space of freedom," Hussein Khomeini says. "The coming of freedom to Iraq will transform the Muslim world."
Perhaps the best reaction, if we can trust it, comes from Libya.
In a recent television appearance, Col. Muammar Khadafy (whose one-man rule has been in place since 1969) told astonished Libyans that he now regarded democracy as "the best system for mankind" and that he would soon unveil a package of reforms. These are expected to include a new Constitution to institutionalize his rule and provide for an elected national assembly.
Free people do not fight wars against each other.

And that is why I supported the liberation of Iraq. For freedom. For democracy. For all of us.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2003 10:28 PM
Comments

Wow, fantastic news-info; the foundations of freedom really are being laid in Iraq.

Freedom and free speech, first. The ability to express an opinion, and argue about it.

A US benign, temporary, dictatorship doesn't look too bad for the next 12 months--many think it's the best form of gov't.

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 9, 2003 01:00 AM

An Americian presence, I meant only an Americian one, there are not too many countries who want to contribte to occupation forces in Iraq, Australia by suprise is one of them. Will have to be in Iraq for at least 2-4 years, if not longer.

The interesting question over the next few years what does the establishment of democracy even temporary democracy in Iraq do for the rest of the region.

Posted by: Tristan Jones at September 9, 2003 01:53 AM

Nice Michael,

I was just going to link to this and have Kimmet read it.

Not that they care about democracy in other places.

Posted by: James Stephenson at September 9, 2003 04:21 AM

And that's why I visit your site, and respect you.

I only wish more liberal-minded people could be as level-headed as you...

Posted by: Gaijin at September 9, 2003 04:35 AM

I echo the comment above mine.

There is a LOT of good news coming out of Iraq, and I wish the traditional media would spend a little more time reporting it. It ain't perfect, but it's a great beginning.

Posted by: Mason at September 9, 2003 06:26 AM

Thats only good news if you prefer democracy and free expression over bloodthirsty dictatorships. Alas the true left look at the above article as ultimatly BAD news.

Posted by: TCallion at September 9, 2003 06:59 AM

Well, TCallion, I'm a member of the true left, sort of, and I supported the liberation also (as the least bad choice); I see the article as good news. You're painting with a pretty broad brush there, friend.

Posted by: Sebastian at September 9, 2003 07:54 AM

Thanks, MJT. Important points, especially given what returning soldiers are telling us about the difference between what they actually experienced and what's being presented to us here at home.

Anyone telling this Spring's anti-war marchers that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would cost under 400 American lives, that local government and schools would be operational and a national governing council formed within a few months, that reconstruction would be ahead of the pace set during the occupations of Germany and Japan, but that the effort would be hampered by sabotage and foreign interference would have been dismissed as a 'cakewalk' optimist.

Not one of the dire predictions we got -- thousands of dead Americans, tens or hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, Baghdad-grad, millions of refugees, civil war, the Arab 'street' enraged, humanitarian disasters of all kinds -- were as optimistic as what's now being decried as a quagmire.

While the predictable shadenfreud from Europe is expected, the shame is that war supporters seem to be as weak kneed and panic prone in the face of obstacles, setbacks and mis-steps as their opponents.

Posted by: Cosmo at September 9, 2003 08:15 AM

"Liberty is one of the most precious gifts bestowed upon Man. No treasures the earth contains or the sea conceals can be compared to it. For liberty one can rightfully risk one's life."

--Cervantes

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 9, 2003 08:16 AM

Something good happened in an Arab country! It must be because the US conquered Iraq, because nothing good happens in an Arab country except at the point of a US gun!

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 9, 2003 09:01 AM

"Free people do not fight wars against each other."

I hope that we do not discover that the bureaucracies have taken over France so completely that they are no longer free. It would be very expensive to rebuild that country. And it would be very tedious listening to the chattering class scream about the danger to national treasures while ignoring the condition of the people of the nation.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at September 9, 2003 09:03 AM

Do you have an excess inventory of straw, Kimmitt? Sorry, but I don't think anybody's going to buy it here.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 9, 2003 09:20 AM

Okay, my critique is not entirely fair -- Syria's actions are almost certainly due to pressure felt due to our conquest of Iraq. I'm just not sure that scaring the bejeezus out of Bashir was worth $1 trillion and hundreds (eventually thousands) of US soldiers' lives with no guarantee of success in the original mission.

As for free people not fighting one another, check out the Boer War (much less US interventions in Latin America). Democracies make war with other democracies for the same reasons other nations make war with one another -- for reasons of commerce and conquest. The threshholds may be higher, but the fact of the matter is, the US and Britain, both democracies, have made war (or sponsored coups, which amounts to the same thing) on other democracies.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 9, 2003 09:22 AM

Kimmit,

Something good happened in an Arab country! It must be because the US conquered Iraq, because nothing good happens in an Arab country except at the point of a US gun!

Is the world is shrinking around you? Is the number of ideas that you can concurrently entertain growing smaller and smaller? This statement is just asine; it's completely unrepresentative of anybody's point of view or understanding of the situation. It's just childish sarcasm, and you can do better.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 9, 2003 09:25 AM

Kimmitt, that was your most flip comment yet. And, yes, the fact that Iraq has free political parties and a free press and no political prisoners is because of US armed intervention. You cannot deny that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 9, 2003 09:26 AM

Good morning Kimmet,

You’re right. We should have just focused on OBL and his leadership cadre and called it a day. What’s the point of this world domination stuff if no one likes us anymore.

Posted by: Dave at September 9, 2003 09:37 AM

Well, I'm picking a nit to be sure, but re: the Boer war, how is the British Empire at the turn of the previous century fighting the surrogates of the German Empire an instance of democracies fighting each other? The Germans under the Kaiser certainly WEREN'T a democracy, and the British Empire (particularly if my recollection that S Africa, like India, was primarily ruled by John Company at that time) wasn't exactly a democracy either -- more of a bureaucratic oligarchy. Of course, this is a facile oversimplification of that war as well, but it (I think) directly contradicts the example.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 9, 2003 09:37 AM

Kimmitt,

If Iraq were a liberal democracy, we would not have invaded and it would not have annexed its neighbors, committed genocide against its own people, or threatened to wipe Israel and Qatar off the map.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 9, 2003 09:45 AM

To all interested in the fascinating and dynamic Iraqi press which has emerged almost overnight (thanks to the bloodthirsy Americans), I strongly recommend the MEMRI website (www.memri.org), which contains numerous dispatches fron the new Iraqi press. These editorals are greatly encouraging to me.

I can only imagine how exciting seeing even a sliver of these kind of full-throated debates would be to a Saudi or Iranian who got hold of an Iraqi newspaper. Despite the problems in Iraq, I still believe that the Iraqis will lead the Middle East to a newer and more humane alternative.

What is the potential liberation of half a billion people worth? What about the worth of 26 million people freed from a brutal fascist regime? Until opponents of the war can answer these questions in some fashion, it is going to be hard to take their dire predictions seriously.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 9, 2003 10:05 AM

Go Kimmet Go!
Something wonderful and new is being born in Iraq...at the expensive of the US. Check out what the LA Times said today:
Iraq Estimates Were Too Low, U.S. Admits The White House acknowledged Monday that it substantially underestimated the cost of rebuilding Iraq and that even the additional $87 billion it was seeking from a wary Congress would fall far short of what is needed for postwar reconstruction. Administration officials said President Bush's emergency spending request - which would push the U.S. budget deficit above the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time - still left a reconstruction funding gap of as much as $55 billion.
I guess you need $$ to make freedom. boohoo :(

Posted by: jojo at September 9, 2003 10:07 AM

In other news, the interim government of Iraq is now officially represented in the Arab League. This should prove most ... 'interesting' is a nice, flexible word, methinks ... down the line.

Posted by: Moe Lane at September 9, 2003 10:28 AM

jojo

Were you one of the whiners who said after 9/11 that if the U.S. just treated everyone else in the world better, then we wouldn't be so hated? So now GWB wants to spend $87B helping to reconstruct Iraq and get them into a more open form of government and you complain about that too! So let me get this straight...nothing the GWB administration does will be helpful in your mind. I think you need to pull the GWB log from your eye and take another look around.

Sammy

Posted by: sammy small at September 9, 2003 12:04 PM

sammy,

you must live in that special part of america where school's budgets are above par, national parks are not closing due to lack of funds, criminals are not being released early because of overcrowded jails and the unemployment rate is 0%. iraq math = bush's new $87B + another $55B + $73B already spent. And yes, me and the other 50% of the US are whiners since we didn't vote for Bush. And besides, I am a tax payer and I am not satisfied with how my money is being spent.

Posted by: jojo at September 9, 2003 12:54 PM

I didn't vote for him, but I'm not whining.

What do you suggest we do then, jojo?

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 9, 2003 01:13 PM

Well, I'm picking a nit to be sure, but re: the Boer war, how is the British Empire at the turn of the previous century fighting the surrogates of the German Empire an instance of democracies fighting each other?

Er, the Boers were the self-governed descendents of Dutch colonists in Africa. They may have gotten sponsorship from the Germans, but the Orange Republic was a genuine democratic entity.

And Michael is quite right -- if Iraq were a democracy, we would not have invaded it if we disagreed with its policies. The US has a long standing history of simply assassinating the leaders of democratic countries whose policies we do not care for; I suppose I'm glad that we've toned it down a bit, for Chirac's sake.

I used to subscribe to the whole "democracies don't fight wars with democracies" concept. I even revised it -- "Since the elicidation of the principle of national self-determination at the end of WWI, democracies do not fight non-trivial wars with other democracies." The difficulty of defining non-trivial wars, however, lead me to give up on the concept entirely. The skirmishing between Turkey and the Kurds (or the fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, another theoretically democratic body) has me even more convinced. Most people aren't thrilled about playing geopolitical games, so democratic structures dampen the rush to war, but if two nation-states have genuinely different intersts and are both democratic, there still exists the possibility of war, so far as I can tell.

Anyway, Libya was liberalizing before 9/11 much less before Iraq; Iran's movement toward freedom is as much demographic as anything else; and anyone who thinks we're going to create a functioning democratic republic in Iraq without spending Marshall Plan money (and raising Marshall Plan taxes) (and keep in mind that not all of those countries made it to full democracy for thirty years) is living in the same fantasy world that Richard "cakewalk" Pearle inhabits.

When Rumsfeld says antidemcratic crap like, "criticizing the President gives succor to our enemies," one wonders how the Administration which has given him such prominence will do in creating democratic structures elsewhere.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 9, 2003 02:35 PM

"The US has a long standing history of simply assassinating the leaders of democratic countries whose policies we do not care for; I suppose I'm glad that we've toned it down a bit, for Chirac's sake."

If the US had a long standing policy of assassinating inconvenient foriegn leaders of democratic nations, when did it start? It certainly did not begin with Wilson, Roosevelt, or Truman. When did it end? It certainly hasn't existed since Ford, Carter, Reagan, or Bush. So if any such policy existed at all other than your imagination, it was brief and does not exist now. Your grasp of history underwhelms us all. Try research and facts instead of conspiracy theory and fantasy.

I do not think that Rumsfield is interested in supressing all dissent so much as condemning idiots who spend all their time in frenzied wrath over imagined errors. Like you, for instance.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at September 9, 2003 03:14 PM

Kimmitt, you're rather missing the point. NEITHER party in the Boer War was a liberal democracy.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 9, 2003 04:23 PM

Wow, Kimmy, even for you this is pretty weak stuff. What really astounds me is that you can't allow yourself even a moment's happiness that Hussein is out of power, that Iraq is more free than it has EVER been. I'm not a Pollyanna; there's still years worth of work to do, but it's not a bad start.

I guess you can't go wrong predicting doom, right Kimmy? You've been so right about everything else in this war.

"I think that liberating Iraq will involve the deaths of a hundred thousand Iraqis and the inaguration of a war between Turkey and Iran for the Kurdish areas of the North. It will also cost us a couple trillion dollars, make us easier and more attractive targets for terrorism, and will, in the end, accomplish nothing -- since the Bush team will end up just sponsoring another dictator anyway. There are no good solutions here, and the ongoing article of faith that a war of conquest will suddenly produce a shining, democratic Iraq with no casualties and no possibility of failure is absurd. But we'll see all of this soon enough."
Posted by: Evil Otto at September 9, 2003 05:13 PM

Kimmit "supposes" Saddam being removed is a good thing.

Posted by: Court at September 9, 2003 05:37 PM

Kimmit "supposes" Saddam being removed is a good thing.

I don't know, has Kimmitt even said that much? He sneers at their new freedom and does seem to wish we had not liberated them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 9, 2003 05:41 PM

Britain was not a liberal democracy in 1900? I mean, the monarchy still existed, sure, but it was pretty much attenuated by then. And the Boers were most certainly a democratic state, if flawed (but then, all of them are).

I was very wrong about the civilian casualty count for the war, for which I am extremely grateful. We've kept a lid on Turkey and Iran vis a vis the Kurds, but there have been skirmishes and deaths; any reasonable person has to conclude that a significant chance for armed conflict exists there, and my estimate for the monetary costs of the war look pretty accurate from this distance. Certainly it absolutely has made the US soldiers and civilians working in Iraq massively more attractive targets for terrorism.

It is good that a dictator like Saddam no longer has the power to harm the Iraqi, Israeli, and other peoples. What replaces him may be worse -- or may not be enough better that it was worth the cost of deposing him. I do not sneer at the freedoms which the Iraqis now enjoy; however, I do sneer at the Administration which uses them as cynical props and at both the Pollyannas who assumed that we would be out of Iraq three months after conquering it and at the latter-day Trotskyites (or Kiplings, if you prefer) who view it as our sacred duty to conquer and remake the world in our image, then pretend that said actions bear no cost, leading to inevitable economic and political failure.

I do like, however, that when pushed, Mr. Totten dipped again from the "objectively pro-Saddam" well. A grim feeling of satisfaction at having successfully identified an unpleasant truth pervades my consciousness; underneath all the trappings of debate and sensibility, the pro-war folks really do believe that disagreeing with them as to the best policy of how to deal with Saddam is the same thing as supporting him, an belief which is both antidemocratic and utterly without merit.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 9, 2003 06:09 PM

Wait a minute, Kimmitt. I said you wished we hadn't removed Saddam, not that you actively support him. There is a light-year of difference between these two positions and you are way too defensive about it.

But perhaps I misunderstand you. Are you glad we invaded and overthrew Saddam? Or do you wish we had not invaded?

You can't be glad we liberated Iraq while simultaneously be against the liberation of Iraq. It is a pretty glaring contradiction. Unless, that is, you are at least willing to acknowledge that the results are mixed, and that some good has come from this war. I have not yet seen you do this. You characterize it as all bad, and you did sneer at Iraqi freedom this morning.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 9, 2003 06:22 PM

The Iraq war, as with all very large things, has both good effects and bad effects. For example, the end to Iraqi state sponsorship of Hamas and suicide bombers is an unmitigated good.

On the balance, I still believe that the invasion was a poor policy decision. But I am actually not capable of answering the question: "do you wish we had not invaded Iraq?" We have invaded Iraq; it is done; and discussing how the world might be different six months after a hypothetical non-war is entirely fruitless. I wish to lay bare the reasons why the war was poor policy so that we can deal more effectively with the results of said poor policy; the risks which I judged to be excessive are now unavoidable, so we must try to understand and handle them as best we can, rather than pretending that they did not exist (and therefore sentencing ourselves to inevitable failure).

I accept the difference between the two positions you lay out and acknowledge my defensiveness regarding them.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 9, 2003 06:37 PM

Kimmy,

After reading your last post, I think you would make an excellent politician.

That's not a compliment.

Posted by: Evil Otto at September 9, 2003 07:25 PM

RIGHT ON!

Posted by: mike at September 9, 2003 07:32 PM

kimmitt - I think that your worries about post Saddam Iraq and its uncertainties are what worries many of the non-supporters of the campaign in Iraq. I realize that the foreign intervention policies of the recent past have not left a warm feeling that the U.S. had the capability of thinking through what end game they wanted to achieve. However I think that 9/11 and some recent failures (Beiruit, Mogadishu, etc.) have educated policy people to the necessity of examining where the dominos could fall.
I think Iraq was well thought through. I hope it suffices to limit combat operations to Iraq, but if events in that part of the world continue down the ugly path, then we have to take the fight to countries who continue to ally themselves with groups that target the U.S. or our interests.
Everyone seems to voice their opinion on the Iraq campaign, but very few have educated themselves enough to have any credibility. The voices that use past history as a guide are obsolete. This is now a world of new international relations, objectives, and methods. The old routines just don't hack it any more. Change brings much uncertainty and agitation. We can't avoid it, but we can do what we need to ensure our safety as the world changes. If we don't, we will pay the ultimate price sooner than later.

Posted by: sammy small at September 9, 2003 07:51 PM

Kimmitt, I would have thought that such you would remember that the management of the holdings of the British Empire was in no way democratic. It was run by corporate interests. But in deference to the rest of the folks here, I'll drop it now.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 9, 2003 08:12 PM

Kimmitt, that was a good answer. All I was really looking for. I don't expect, nor do I want, everyone to agree with me about everything.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 9, 2003 08:21 PM

Kimmitt, I would have thought that such you would remember that the management of the holdings of the British Empire was in no way democratic. It was run by corporate interests.

That was kind of my point, actually; the "democracies don't fight each other" rule is so easily subverted by the "colonial actions are corporate in nature" rule that it becomes more or less meaningless.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 10, 2003 01:24 AM

More fuel for the glass is half full meme: see the poll re Iraqi attitudes re U.S. occupation in today's WSJ editorial page (poll by Zogby). [Unfortunately, I can't link because I don't have an online subscription, only a newspaper one]

These findings corresponds with the many editorial viewpoints collected at www.memri.com from the new Iraqi press. One thing that baffles me about opponents of the war is that they sem to completely tune out the views of most Iraqis in favor of listening to themselves and like-minded people (admittedly, pro-war people often do the same). In this case, however, the views of Irais should carry special weight. To ignore Iraqi voices is a not-too-subtle indication that only Americans (or American politics) matters--the same kind of self-absorbed navel-gazing narcissism that drove me bonkers in the anti-war marches before the war.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 10, 2003 06:24 AM

Hey,the American Enterprise Institute has the Zinsmeister article for free!Read "What Iraqis Really Think" here.

Posted by: JH at September 10, 2003 11:25 AM

Daniel,

If the majority of Iraqis were anti-US and wanted us to get out immediately, I have no doubt that the anti-war left would be harping on it endlessly. The Iraqis aren't, so all we hear is silence.

Posted by: Evil Otto at September 10, 2003 12:52 PM

Dear Evil:

I agree. This demonstrates the human facility for resolutely ignoring all evidence that doesn't correspond to one's predetermined point of view.

It's encouraging when people change their minds, it's good when people recognize their own limitations and admit that they might have been wrong--but I'm not holding my breath. Acknowledgement of imperfection is a sign of intelligence--haughty certitude a mark of ignorance and disdain for reality.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 10, 2003 01:28 PM

Okay, hang on -- don't you all think that the Iraqis surveyed are going to have a tiny historical bias toward telling the pollsters what they think they want to hear?

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 10, 2003 07:11 PM

When did Saddam ever ask anyone for their opinion, Kimmitt? They were told what to think, not asked. Besides, wouldn't you think that if that were the case they wouldn't have answered that the US would harm Iraq? Wouldn't the opinion have been uniform across demographic groups? Wouldn't the opinions have been overwhelmingly uniform?

Nice try, but you're off base here.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 10, 2003 08:39 PM

Kimmit, it really seems like you're clutching at straws. I doubt you have any evidence or logical argument to back up what you say--the Iraqis aren't five-year-olds, they know that they're not going to get imprisoned, tortured, or murdered by the Americans for voicing their opinion.

You know, I opposed the war for what I still think were good reasons, I come from a liberal background, and I hate the ubiquitious political strategy of ascribing the sentiments of those who disagree with you to serious character flaws. But sometimes, like in this case, it really does seem like some people just want things to go badly. Or, at least, your expectation is so solidified that you can't accept data that does not match your expectation.

Personally, like you, I expected things to go a hell of a lot worse than they have. I am also delighted to be wrong--and there's no "but" at the end of that sentence.

Posted by: Christopher Luebcke at September 10, 2003 10:17 PM

Personally, like you, I expected things to go a hell of a lot worse than they have. I am also delighted to be wrong--and there's no "but" at the end of that sentence.

Which, now that I've heard this, would lead me to give your arguments more weight in a hypothetical disagreement, not less. Huh. That's interesting, if counterintuitive.

Posted by: Moe Lane at September 11, 2003 09:17 AM

As a statistician, I am interested in the details of how the poll was conducted; it is far easier to get a random sample of Americans through the phone book than it is to get a random sample of Iraqis.

I'm sorry, but these just aren't good numbers. It seems like you're so desperate to find good news that you're willing to throw out basic statistical good sense.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 09:45 AM

Kimmitt, it seems to me that you're desperate to find bad news, and that when the evidence contradicts you you simply dismiss it with a blatant rationalization. Zogby is an internationally known polling firm and certainly understands statistics.

What about the editorials from the Iraqi press I referred to earlier? In what sense are they subject to sampling error? Let me guess, it's a conspiracy at MEMRI to only sample editorials that support the occupation.

In short, all Iraqis are entitled to their opinions, as long as they are no more optimistic than yours.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 11, 2003 10:03 AM

Please enlighten us as to how you're able to draw the conclusion that the numbers are invalid. As noted previously, Zogby is a respected polling firm. They claim that the margin of error is +/- 4.1%. Or haven't you bothered to go to their site prior to drawing your conclusions?

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 11, 2003 10:32 AM

I scorn all polls except those that support my views, William Safire, 7/16/03

Posted by: Dave at September 11, 2003 11:39 AM

<a href="http://www.zogby.com/Soundbites/ReadClips.dbm?ID=5787"

Is this the poll to which you are referring?

More information here, I think.

Due respect to Zogby's impressive work (caught in a firefight!), but I'm not impressed by the summary on the AEI site. Zogby did not do a poll of "the Iraqi people;" it did a poll of four cities, and each poll in each city is only representative for that city (assuming that Zogby did a good job of selecting randomly, which it sounds like they did). I see from that site that they did at least some work to try to elicit true answers, which is a good thing.

I still want to see more of the raw data (I don't have a hundred bucks to blow per little presentation), but it sounds like Zogby did some good polling (yay) which was rather mangled by the folks who commissioned it (dammit).

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 02:21 PM

I'd like to see the raw data also, and like you, won't spend $100 to see it. However, "it sounds like Zogby did some good polling (yay) which was rather mangled by the folks who commissioned it (dammit)" is a long chalk from "I'm sorry, but these just aren't good numbers". The former is a reasonable position, if one with which some will disagree; the latter is an argument from ignorance.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 11, 2003 02:31 PM

The numbers given weren't good numbers. They took numbers which were decent and abused them until they weren't.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 06:03 PM

Kimmitt, yet another argument from ignorance. You have already stated that you have not seen the raw data. You cannot claim that the numbers have been abused.

UH has a very highly regarded philosophy department. I'm sure they'll allow you to audit a logic course.

Posted by: Phil Smith at September 11, 2003 06:31 PM

For example, they'll refer to your argument as an ad hominem attack.

The AEI reportage on the numbers gives conclusions which cannot be supported based on the data which they say they have. Whether or not I have seen the raw data is irrelevant; AEI's methodology of interpretation is so suspect that it casts grave doubt on the results of the polling.

Having not seen the WSJ editorial in question, I cannot comment on it; for all I know that editorial introduced yet more poor interpretation.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 11, 2003 11:20 PM

"Having not seen the WSJ editorial in question, I cannot comment on it; for all I know that editorial introduced yet more poor interpretation"

Good to see your not commenting on it.

So we shouldnt believe actual polling numbers based on scientific statistical analysis but when 200 Iraqis chant in a street and 5 terrorists fire on a US convoy we should believe that an entire country is in chaos and wants us out?
Puleese!

Oh BTW, Kimmit, nows your chance to deflect my salient point by rekindeling a discussion about the Boers!

Posted by: TCallion at September 12, 2003 11:40 AM

I don't pretend to know what the situation is right now in Iraq, other than that some people obviously want us out badly enough to fire on American soldiers, a rather dangerous practice, and some people want us there very badly -- and the vast majority of people want what they always want, which is a modicum of dignity.

Posted by: Kimmitt at September 12, 2003 01:36 PM

"The numbers given weren't good numbers. They took numbers which were decent and abused them until they weren't."

Good numbers? LIke the 100% that Saddam won in his last election, I suppose???

Posted by: Robert at September 14, 2003 10:41 AM



Testimonials

"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

"Terrific"
Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere


Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com


News Feeds




toysforiraq.gif



Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button

totten_button.jpg


Tip Jar





Essays

Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn