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Don't Let False Imputations of Bad Motives Stop Legitimate Arguments:

Some reactions I've gotten to last Friday's posts on the supporters and justifiers of the Iraqi "resistance" have pointed out that opposing the war in Iraq isn't the same as supporting the enemy.

In fact, I've made exactly the same argument myself in the past (see, e.g., my post criticizing the locution "objectively pro-Saddam" for wrongfully imputing bad intentions; see also this op-ed defending the rights of dissenters, and speaking disparagingly of "the natural tendencies of governments and their allies -- tendencies that are only exacerbated in wartime -— to assume that they're right, and that their opponents are traitors"). There's no need to persuade me of this. And this is precisely why I am criticizing not all opponents of the war, but rather "those Westerners who do endorse the Iraqi 'resistance,'" or who try to justify their actions.

Critics of the war should certainly not let themselves be browbeaten by false imputations that they support the other side.

Likewise, critics of the Iraqi insurgents -- and of those who defend or justify the Iraqi insurgents -- should not let themselves be browbeaten by false imputations that they are trying to unfairly condemn all opponents of the war.

More shortly on this topic.

Dread Justice Roberts:
I hope the "more shortly" covers:

1. Whether there in fact is a non-negligible (I hope that is a more satisfactory term than "substantial") contingent of "Westerners who do endorse the Iraqi 'resistance,'" or who try to justify their actions." You asked for examples. They were given and defended or attacked.

2. If the answer to #1 is that the insurgent-supporters exist only in negligible numbers, why isn't criticism of them essentially a straw man argument?

3. Some comment on those prominent figures who do in fact "unfairly condemn all opponents of the war."

Your past statements and posts on unfair condemnation are not enough. You started the (mostly fruitless) search for insurgent-supporters, which caused the (fruitful) search for unfair condemnations of the left. We wonder, have you come to any conclusions at all?
8.15.2005 2:29pm
Challenge:
Opposing the war is either:

1) Surrender

2) Support of the enemy

It may be true that one views the war as just not worth the costs, so they will accept defeat, and surrender to the enemy rather than continue those losses. They don't WANT the enemy to win, but they are resigned to that fate. I guess there is the third possibility that one thinks that our withdrawal would stabilize the situation and the Iraqis would live happily ever after, but I just can't take that argument seriously.
8.15.2005 2:30pm
JoeSlater (mail):
Challenge:

So were the prominent Republicans who were highly critical of Clinton's use of the military in Bosnia advocating surrender or supporting the enemy?
8.15.2005 2:39pm
Eric (mail) (www):
Eugene,
The more important distinction, I think, is that between understanding reasons for an Iraqi resistance and believing those reasons--or the specific tactics used by violent insurgents--to be "justified." Your comments have never teased those two very different things apart, and that, I think, is a good part of the reason so many people have found the line of inquiry you opened to have a hint of McCarthyite menace to it.
--Eric
8.15.2005 2:39pm
Challenge:
"So were the prominent Republicans who were highly critical of Clinton's use of the military in Bosnia advocating surrender or supporting the enemy?"

Surrender, yes. Though I am sure they'd have supported some minor non-military means be employed in the same cause. Also, it's different to oppose something before it begins (as that would not be surrender). But now that the battle is joined, let there be no doubt that leaving Iraq to the Islamofascists is surrender and defeat.
8.15.2005 2:43pm
Challenge:
Eric Muller makes a good point (wow, first time ever?), but I see no reason to believe Eugene has conflated those two very distinct categories.
8.15.2005 2:44pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Perhaps we could separate the likely result of a position and the motivation for that position.
One could, for example, be an opponent of the war for honorable reasons. The course one proposes looks, to the proposer, as an honorable way of ending the war. While, in the real world, and in the judgment of many, it would advantage the terrorists.
Orwell didn't, after all, say that the pacifist loves fascists. He said that, objectively, the pacifist favors the terrorists, using "favors" not in the sense of liking, but in the sense of enabling. The pacifist may have had the most honorable motivations.

The problem with this is that when, to make an excessively simple example, some guy sees your house is on fire and pitches a can of kerosene into the flames. When reproached, he sticks out his lower lip, assumes an air of being wronged, and says he was only trying to put out the fire.
You can think he's stupid, but honest.
You can think that, but your house is still gone.
Or you can wonder if he's telling the truth about his motivation.
In the present situation, some suggested solutions seem to others to be so wrong and so obviously-to-a-toddler wrong that it is difficult to credit the claimed motivation. Other motivations may be imputed.
They may be right.
8.15.2005 2:45pm
Carol Anne:
Dissent from political decisions is as patriotic as support of those decisions. We are a pluralistic society, with righ diversity of viewpoints and experience.

The best of what we are as a nation emerges out of the discovery of that information hidden between our differences of opinion.

Denigrating those who hold a different opinion with the claim that they represent "support of the enemy" is an artifice of those devoid of logic and rationale. It's just a form of ad hominem attack, the basic strategy of those who are incapable of attacking the ideas.
8.15.2005 2:49pm
Challenge:
"Dissent from political decisions is as patriotic as support of those decisions."

What isn't patriotic? One example please.
8.15.2005 2:52pm
Carol Anne:
Anyone who thinks he can impute motive is trying to engage in Mind Reading. Read what the author has said/posted; do not project your own beliefs on that person, for you have no basis for that assertion.

One can always draw a false and extreme analogy, for all analogies have inherent flaws. The only reputable analogies that have isomorphic relevance to the subject under discussion. Dissent from the current NeoCon worldview is not throwing "...a can of kerosene into the flames." Find a more appropriate and apt simile.
8.15.2005 2:54pm
Dread Justice Roberts:
I just took another look at the series of posts. It seems that Prof. Volokh agrees with all the following statements:
1. Opposing the war does not necessarily mean supporting the enemy.

2. It is wrong to falsely claim that your opponents support the "bad guys."

3. Some Westerners who support the insurgents or try to justify their actions exist, but it is difficult to tell whether they constitute "substantial" numbers.

4. Such people are worthy of criticism.

My question relates to the last point: Are such people really worthy of criticism if they do not constitute substantial numbers? That is, there surely exists at least one person who favors excluding all arabs from the country just to be safe against terrorism, but is it really worth it to criticize such people? Should we end columns with, "and that's why those who favor deporting all Arabs are wrong."?
8.15.2005 3:09pm
Larry (mail):
I thought it was pretty clear that opposition to intervention in Bosnia was advocating surrender. If I recall correctly, Republicans repeatedly said that they would rather live under a Yugoslavian flag, as they said that the war (in fact, all wars) were immoral and that in being against the war they knew that they were in favor of surrender.

I am sure Mr. Challenge agrees with me.
8.15.2005 3:11pm
Justin (mail):
Eugene, the logical fallacy of your argument is that what you believed then = what you believe now, which is often true but given that you backed yourself into a corner here, neither evidences that you believe it now given the higher stakes of the argument nor that you believed it, emotionally, when committing yourself to the attack for which you now will not apologize.
8.15.2005 3:16pm
MA:
And yet, and yet:

Professor, you started this thread by voluntarily choosing to propagate rumors about personal life of Steven Vincent. You did not know Vincent, did you, and your opinion about his personal life should be none. And if you hear or read other people's opinions about the same, what is honorable or kind about passing the rumor along? It is printed, so what: let people learn it, but not from you.

You want a civilized way to smoke out people that express certain opinion you disagree with. May be this is honorable and kind; I doubt it, but if you would like to do it, go for it. Vincent's murder should not be even a preamble to this cause of yours.
8.15.2005 3:25pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Carol Anne.
Is the only motivation we can believe that which is claimed by someone else?
Is there no such thing as a lie?

It is more than possible, in fact we do it all the time, to impute motivations to people which are at odds with their claims.

If a person, presented with the facts that the logical result of his position is a catastrophe, continues to insist on his position, you can discuss it with him. You can pare off, one by one, his claimed reasons for his position by concluding they are so illogical and contradict facts so obviously that no intellgent person can believe that. What's left may be his true motivation, or maybe he's just nuts.

Orwell, remember, didn't approach the motivations of the pacifists. He simply addressed the results.

I think Orwell was a pollyanna. Any pacifist worth his fourth-grade education could have seen what Orwell saw. It was simply more important to retain the persona of pacifist than to think seriously about the results.
8.15.2005 4:10pm
Justin (mail):
"Critics of the war should certainly not let themselves be browbeaten by false imputations that they support the other side." - Volokh (today)

that's good reason to think that at least some voters -- quite likely not even a majority in their district, but a substantial matter -- endorse their views. Likewise, while I'm hesitant to infer much from comments by random posters on various Internet fora, the presence of those comments, coupled with the views expressed by more prominent people, suggests that there is a considerable number of people who take this position. - Volokh (today)

Grade: F
8.15.2005 4:19pm
Steve J. (mail) (www):
Here's more "objectively pro-terrorist" persons:

Republican lawmakers urge shift in U.S. Iraq plans
Sun Jun 12, 2005 03:40 PM ET
By Vicki Allen
LINK

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican congressman called for a deadline to pull U.S. troops from Iraq, while some other members of President Bush's party urged on Sunday that his administration come to grips with a persistent insurgency and revamp Iraq policy.
Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina conservative, said on ABC's "This Week" that he would offer legislation next week setting a timetable for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. "I voted for the resolution to commit the troops, and I feel that we've done about as much as we can do," said Jones, who had coined the phrase "freedom fries" to lash out at the French for opposing the Iraq invasion.
"The insurgency is alive and well. We underestimated the viability of the insurgency," Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said on CBS' Face the Nation. He said the administration has "been slow to adjust when it comes to troop strength and supporting our troops."
Graham said the Army is contending with a serious shortfall in recruiting "because this war is going sour in terms of word of mouth from parents and grandparents." He said "if we don't adjust, public opinion is going to keep slipping away."
Jones, a member of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said "primarily the neoconservatives" in the administration were to blame for flawed war planning.
"The reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there," he said.


Rep. Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who just returned from Iraq, joined several Democrats saying the administration must be more candid and acknowledge that it could take about two years to train Iraqi forces to replace U.S. soldiers and allow a significant pullout.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, said on CNN's Late Edition, that "many of us warned this administration before we ever put a boot on the ground" that it would face a long-term conflict. "We didn't have plans for it. And we are now where we are," he said.
8.15.2005 6:22pm
Carol Anne:
To Richard Aubrey:

You miss a key distinction between belief and fact. You may believe you understand my (or anyone's) motives, and you may, in fact, choose to behave as if you do. But, you cannot, without a LOT more information claim you can assert my motives as fact.

The problem is further exacerbated by the belief of some people that the motive of classes/groups of people can be imputed. In fact, with any sufficiently large group of people (say, more than a dozen), there are bound to be differences in individual motives.

Just as one example: If an opponent infiltrates a group of people who tend to hold the same opinion, and then that opponent behaves similarly to the group, would you believe that person's motives are aligned with the group? No, you cannot, because their behavior is a trust-building maneuver to allow them to gather information with which to undermine that group. (I love counter-examples...can you tell?)

My motive (which I'll share with you, as best I can) is to discourage the demonizing of people who disagree with us. You and I disagree on many things (I'm certain of that because we are different people). When we each address the same (complex) issue, the creative solutions are more likely to be found as a byproduct of the dialog, rather than either of us declaring the other wrong.

There's entirely too much dismissal of people with whom we disagree on both (or, more properly, all) sides of this Iraq intervention. I would hope that we can inspire ourselves, and others, to engage in constructive dialog to discover what we can about solutions neither of us have yet evolved.

I'll cop to a bias against killing innocent non-combatants, no matter how much we try to sanitize it by calling it "collateral damage." I am against insurgents and terrorists who attack innocent people as a means of raising the general level of disgust in the culture. I am, likewise, against military forces using Draconian measures that cause innocent non-combatants loss of life, limb and property. If we fail to try to understand why that happens--on both sizes of the conflict--we fail to be prepared to solve the problems, because understanding of the problem is a prerequisite to a constructive solution.
8.15.2005 6:23pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Carol Anne:

Two points. I can not swear on penalty of perjury what somebody's motive is. However, by paring off what look like false motives--because they make no sense--I am left with one or two which do. But, as it happens, those one or two may not be the ones stated, and in fact may be the ones denied.
If logic tells me that only an idiot would say, I want A, and then act in such a way as to totally destroy A. Either the person is an idiot, or is lying about his motivation.
There are many cases where it's complicated and one has to look at many proclaimed motivations, and, finding none of them have the slightest possibility of accomplishing what it is claimed is desired, and, having failed to make any headway in explaining this, one is left with the idiot/liar question.

As to your last point, don't feel like the Lone Ranger. Few of us like the idea of killing civilians.
And most of us who keep up are aware of the rules of engagement, unheard of in earlier conflicts, the use of smart weapons to avoid civilian casualties, the cost to us in US lives of living out those rules.
So, when you characterize the tactics as "draconian", we are left to wonder.... Does she keep up? Or is she trying to fool us? Because the one thing she is not is CORRECT.
8.15.2005 9:52pm
Steve J. (mail) (www):
RICHARD AUBREY - "And most of us who keep up are aware of the rules of engagement, unheard of in earlier conflicts"

YOU are not keeping up:

Shots to the Heart of Iraq
· Innocent civilians, including people who are considered vital to building democracy, are increasingly being killed by U.S. troops.

By Richard C. Paddock, LA Times Staff Writer
July 25, 2005



BAGHDAD — Three men in an unmarked sedan pulled up near the headquarters of the national police major crimes unit. The two passengers, wearing traditional Arab dishdasha gowns, stepped from the car.

At the same moment, a U.S. military convoy emerged from an underpass. Apparently believing the men were staging an ambush, the Americans fired, killing one passenger and wounding the other. The sedan's driver was hit in the head by two bullet fragments.

The soldiers drove on without stopping.

Marine Cleared in Killing of 2 Iraqi Detainees
The lieutenant says he acted in self-defense against the unarmed men to 'send a message.'
May 27, 2005
By David Zucchino, LA Times Staff Writer
A Marine lieutenant accused of murdering two unarmed detained Iraqis and hanging a taunting sign over their corpses was
cleared of all charges Thursday, a decision the Marine Corps said was in "the best interests" of the officer and the country.

Marine 2nd Lt. Ilario G. Pantano - a Wall Street energy trader who rejoined the military in response to the Sept. 11 attacks - did not deny shooting the suspected insurgents 60 times or hanging the sign that displayed a corps slogan: "No better friend, no worse enemy."

Maj. Gen. Richard Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division, dismissed all charges after "careful consideration" of the
autopsies and an investigative report, the corps said in a statement at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Pantano's home base. "The best interests of 2nd Lt. Pantano and the government have been served by this process," the statement said.
8.15.2005 10:10pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Steve.

Yes. I am keeping up. And those reports share several characteristics. One is that they are rare. Another is that you have mischaracterized them. A third is that you miss the picture, not accidentally. Again, a guess at motivation. You know that we could have flattened Fallujah during the last scrimmage by use of heavy bombers without putting a single American at risk. Instead, we sent our grunts door to door like the Fuller Brush man, and many were killed, to limit the damage and the civilian casualties. But you don't allow for it, because it might make the Americans look not so bad.
To say that the effort was not perfect is not to say the effort was not made and did not have a dreadful cost, and was completely discretionary. We chose to get our young men killed.

Pantano was accused, by some, as you say. He was not convicted, since the facts failed to support what you dealry wish, as to the deaths of the insurgents. You know, most of the time, "accused" does not equal "convicted", don't you? Why, sure you do. Only here, you figured you could slick one past us. What he did with the sign is irrelevant, except to those who pretend a superior kind of squeamishness, as convenient. Pantano, nevertheless, resigned. The only accuser was an NCO who had been disciplined by the officer and no corroboration was otherwise available.
See, I keep up.
I'm not the only one. Just a warning. You never know who you'll be impressing as a liar. It's just that I've taken the time. Most don't. But they know.
8.15.2005 11:01pm
Carol Anne:
Ro Richard Aubrey:

Ohaiyo gozaimus.

You write: I can not swear on penalty of perjury what somebody's motive is..

The issue is not one of perjury, but one of certainty of knowledge; I believe perjury is based on a somewhat different standard...that of accurate adherance to the truth. The issue about motive is not simply rosolve to an "idiot/liar" issue, it is much more complex.

Let us explore, for a moment, how humans deduce motive: We do it by interpreting behavior and searching for presuppositions That is, we observe behavior (and I will limit myself to a single person), and from that behavior we ask the question, "What would necessarily have to be true for that person's mental model for that behavior to 'make sense'?" If I see a man who's car has stalled ripping out and discarding seemingly random parts from the engine compartment, I might reasonably come to the conclusion that he knows nothing about how engines work.

Presuppositions are based on other presuppositions. I presuppose, in this dialog, that your are articulate, and respectful of my differt opinion for your own. That, in turn, rests on (for instance) presuppositions that English is an appropriate language for this dialog (that's why a threw in a Japanese phrase at the opening :-), that through dialog we can achieve some modest change (perhaps you'll change my view, perhaps I'll change yours, or--better--perhaps we'll emerge from the experience with slightly different viewpoints on both sides), that dialog has the potential to be productive, that we can achieve positive outcomes when we treat each other with respect, rather than invective. Those, in turn are based on other presupposition. In fact, presuppositions come in hierarchies.

To suggest that we can derive that entire pattern of presuppositions, and reduce them to a simple either/or motive, I submit, is much, much harder than it appears. Even in intense negotiations, with dozens of interactions, we can come to false conclusions. And, acting as if our conclusions are true, complete and comprehensive is fraught with peril.

In the idiot/liar distinction, I see several other possibilities (and, incidentally, idiot/liar doesn't seem like a motive distinction as all; when does being an idiot constitute a motive?). The person we don't agree with might be:
Misinformed or uninformed
Opeating from an utterly different world view
Deceived by the press (or the false motives of that press)
Lacking key facts we have at our disposal
An argumentative contrarian, opposing our views as "fun"
...and the list goes on.

Yes, we create "presuppositional hypotheses" about other's behaviors, as a working tool in dialog, but those hypotheses deserve further examination and revision in light of observed behavior.

As an example: I'm not in alignment with a Michael Moore worldview; in fact, I think his motives are to sell films, first and foremost, and in the trade it's a mantra that "controversy moves ink." Does that make him a liar? Maybe. But, maybe he also looks for an obscure and unlikely motivation on the part of his subjects, and then collects evidence to support that case. That makes him--in my eyes--an entertainer, but a clever entertainer, which seems to eliminate the sobriquet "idiot." And, within his worldview, the presentations appear to me to be internally self-consistent, which would seem to undermine the charge that he might be a "liar," at least in his own mind.

I do wish we had a richer place for dialog about this issue; this "drift" from the original thread of Mr. Volokh's thoughts at the top of this thread seems relevant, but hardly central.
8.16.2005 11:42am
Carol Anne:
Richard Aubrey wrote, in response to my post:
So, when you characterize the tactics as "draconian", we are left to wonder.... Does she keep up? Or is she trying to fool us? Because the one thing she is not is CORRECT

I did not characterize "...the tactics as 'draconian'" but in context I'd hoped you'd see that I believe some tactics by established military forces have been Draconian. I could have been clearer by inserting that modifier "...some..." to resolve the ambiguity.

I'm also confused by the referential index shift from "you" to "she." I assume the latter part of that paragraph still referred to me. It signaled, to me, a shift from question to characterization. And, based on your misinterpretion of my statement (which was, admittedly ambiguous, albeit without malicious intent), you assert "...[I] am not CORRECT." But, Mr. Aubrey, "CORRECT" according to whom? Certainly, you and will have--I believe, based on the tenor of your post--some inevitable disagreements in understanding based our necessarily incomplete understandings of all the situations. I believe it's fair to conclude that you "might find that hard to believe," but calling (presumably) me "...not CORRECT" is probably based on a presupposition or two we do not share.

It's an example of the shortcuts we all often take in dialog, but the presupposition behind it (which I interpret as "I'm right and she's wrong") is language that to often serves to shed more heat than light, promotes more polarity than unity.

Ultimately, you may be right (I don't know how you know what you know; you might, in fact, have a different interpretation of "Draconian" than I, or you might have comprehensive knowledge that would undermine my understanding of various military actions I've seen reported. But, without my knowing any of that, my immediate reaction is, "He doesn't know that! He's jumping to conclusions about me."

My motive here is not to denigrate what you say, but to try to use (some of) your words as the basis for a cautionary tale about how we all (yes, even me) can often use words that can inspire defensiveness or dismissal in the recipient, and that undermines the meta-goal of sustaining the dialog. I presume we engage in this dialog because we each want to leave a positive legagy in the record.
8.16.2005 12:02pm
Carol Anne:
To Richard Aubrey:

Thanks for your kind words about areas where we agree. I definitely don't feel like "the Lone Ranger," and I'm happy to see we have grounds of agreement upon which to build future exchanges of facts, opinions and understandings.
8.16.2005 12:04pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Carol Anne.
To be honest, or perhaps you spotted it, I was not being gracious in the issue of not liking to kill civilians. You said that as if it set you off from the rest of us barbs.

Some things are easier than you think.
"draconian" has a meaning.
Even though it is not best applied to war, its connotation is clear.
The problem is that you are wrong. Given war, we have violence. We are given this war. To talk of tactics which are draconian is to add the connotation to some tactics with the clear implication that there are non-draconian tactics. This much is true.
That we are using draconian tactics is not true.
Draconian tactics for, say, Fallujah, would be using an updated version of what we used to call, back in the day, Arc Light. This was a three-ship "cell" of B52 bombers, carrying fifty to seventy-five bombs each. Flying in close formation, they would drop their bombs in a line which could be half a mile wide and several miles long. The result was inconceivable devastation. Overlapping bomb craters and so forth. Nothing lived. We could have done that to Fallujah with maybe two days to organize it and deconflict the flight paths. With modern planning techniques, probably faster. And accomplished it within an hour of the first bomb strike.
THAT would be draconian. To send light infantry house to house is not draconian.
To offer those in a city the chance to leave before attacking is not draconian.
To kill all, as Assad did at Homs, is draconian.
Killing everybody we find associated with an IED or a weapons cache is draconian. Detaining them for a quick review and letting most of them go is not draconian.

Our tactics cost US lives, and the next of kin, unless they are particularly large-hearted, might wish our tactics had been more draconian. One of my father's friends was killed late in the Pacific war and his mother lamented we'd not used the atomic bomb earlier. That was circumstance, not choice, but her wish is the point.

Okay, you caught me by taking my reference to perjury literally. Hammered, I am.

Point is, I can be reasonably certain, after the exercises described, that a guy is either an idiot or a liar. I can, for example, give him the information which, had he known it, might have changed his mind, since he would be telling me the factual basis for his belief. Once he finds out his facts are wrong, it would be logical for him to change his mind, the facts being the basis for his belief. He can take me as an authority, or I can give him sources. If he does not change his mind, his decision was based on something other than the facts he claimed were decisive. In other words, he's a liar.

As to whether we share presuppositions: Irrelevant. You are right or you are wrong, whether our presuppositions are shared or not.
You may decide to individually re-define "draconian". That's not an uncommon technique. But if you bring the new definition into the discussion without first explaining the redefinition, you leave the implicit contract that the word means what it generally is accepted to mean. But you aren't abiding by that contract, and you're not telling, either. That's both dishonest and counterproductive. I don't say this is what you are doing, but it's happened often enough to make me wary.

It is possible, I suppose, to claim that your reality is as valid as mine, in which case I suggest you talk to a philosopher for whom such discussions are meat and drink and there are no real-world consequences.
8.16.2005 3:59pm
Carol Anne:
You may select your opinion, Mr. Aubrey, but you're not free to select the facts upon which the discussion is based.

Your rambling rebuttal to my most recent posts expose so many misconceptions and flat out errors that I am not going to take the time to argue with you.

Clearly, you have the conception that only your worldview makes sense (and, indeed, it does—to you), whereas I'm certain of one thing: Everyone in the world has a unique set of presuppositions, borne of experience, that drives their choices.

Your presuppositio, for instance, that my reference to "Draconian" was in explicit reference to events in Iraq was flat wrong. I made no such assertion. I simply said, in plain, simple words, that I abhor military forces who use strategies and tactics without regard to "collateral damage." I neither sair nor implied that U.S. forces are guilty of that.

Your attempt to paint me with the intent to "re-define 'draconian'" as a debating technique exposes your inability to recognize that my methods are different from yours, or others with whom you've presupossed I sympathize. I prefer the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary: "...harsh, cruel, severe, strict."

This is a clearly a fruitless discussion, because you don'tw ant to address what I have written, you prefer to repeat what you think in an attempt to dismiss me and my viewpoint. That's hardly constructive or productive.

And, your quote, "We are given this war" leaves me puzzled. War is seldom a gift. Who, specifically gave us this war? And, indeed, given that only Congress can declare war, where is that declaration? Or, are you presupposing that any conflict (e.g., "drug war"), no matter how initiated, can be called "war?"

Methinks you're more concerned about being right than in considering that maybe, perhaps, there might be somehing in your philosophy that deserves reconsideration.

As a practitioner of (indeed an innovator of) this fora of dialog for decades, I find that the online fora that succeed are those in which particpants ask questions and share learnings that expands the body of knowledge...not those where each party "sticks to their guns" and repeats the same perceptions time after time.

I remain unconvinced.
8.17.2005 10:59am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Carol Anne.
I've been at it, myself, for many years. I did the civil rights thing in Mississippi in the Sixties and have kept up with what we used to call The Movement. Indeed, one of our alums recently helped shake down Harvard for $50 mill by feigning an attack of the vapors. I couldn't be prouder.

If you don't like draconian tactics, so what? If you were not reacting to the subject--the war in Iraq--why bother. Therefore, you were reacting to the war in Iraq.
Or you were slipping the subject.

There are actually true things, and one's view rarely changes them. Various people, having taken one or another controlled substance, truly believed they could fly. Indeed, it became so common that some parties had a designated realityperson to drink diet Coke and keep the others in this universe. Strangely, the law of gravity refused to go away. Amazing. And it's true of other issues, as well.

You believe what you want, but it's usually a good idea to check it against reality.

Some people actually lie about their motivations. Really. Truly. Some do.
My point is that it is not cosmically, universally, impossible to get an idea of whether somebody is doing that. And, in fact, it is not necessary to get their virtual wrist up between their virtual shoulder blades and make them admit what we both know. It is possible to do so by examining other possibilities and finding them improbable.
Now, let's conclude the person isn't actually lying. They actually believe that stuff. So? Still won't work.
8.17.2005 11:25am