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How Dogmatically Reasonable!

November 26th, 2007 · 7 Comments

From Jeff Jacoby’s recent Globe column:

Blind opposition to war that seems lost is understandable. But can Democrats be so invested in defeat that they would abandon even a war that may be winnable?

I’m not sure why there’s such a tone of shock in that second sentence: Of course a war might be winnable and yet not worth fighting. But the real dizzying moment is in the first sentence: When a war seems lost, one would think opposition is not so much “blind” as “the only reasonable reaction to the available evidence,” as (contra Jacoby) winnability is not a sufficient condition for supporting a war, but a bare minimum.

Tags: War



7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gil // Nov 26, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    I think it’s clear that Jacoby is using “winnable” as a synonym for something like “Capable of yielding a worthwhile success.” (and “lost” as “Incapable…”).

    With that in mind, his sentences don’t seem that strange.

    I think Jacoby has a point. If the situation on the ground continues to improve, excessive defeatism now could come back to haunt the candidate in the general election (poor judgement, lack of support for, and confidence in, the troops, etc.).

  • 2 Greg Newburn // Nov 26, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Winnability might be the bare minimum for supporting a war initially, but Jacoby doesn’t say “oppose” a war. He says “abandon” a war, which is different. After all, not fighting a war, and fighting a war and losing, do not yield the same results. Jacoby’s point seems to be, “Whether we should have or shouldn’t have, we’re at war now. We shouldn’t quit now that victory seems possible.”

  • 3 Jon // Nov 26, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Sufficient condition? Evidence? I need an Advil…

  • 4 Dave Woycechowsky // Nov 26, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    I think the key word is “abandoning.” You might not support a winnable war b4 it starts. Onces it starts, I think you are supposed to stay the course somewhat, and not re-think the decision to get into all the time. And I say tha as a relatively antiwar, and especially anti-Iraq War person.

  • 5 shecky // Nov 26, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Even if you accept the premise, it begs the question. How do we know when we’ve won? And what would we have won? Until such things are defined, any cutbacks can be portrayed as abandoning a winnable war.

  • 6 Jon H // Nov 30, 2007 at 1:15 am

    “Onces it starts, I think you are supposed to stay the course somewhat, and not re-think the decision to get into all the time. ”

    Okay, you’re German. It’s 1939. Poland is eminently defeatable. The invasion has started. It’s wrong.

    Someone kills Hitler. Do you continue with the war just because it’s started, and winnable, even though it’s wrong/misguided/evil?

  • 7 Tim Fowler // Dec 5, 2007 at 11:24 am

    Your assuming the war is evil, or at least so misguided that not abandoning it immediately will lead to some major disaster. In terms of evil your comparison to Hitler is ridiculous. In terms of practical consequences, the comparison is also ridiculous. We aren’t invading Iraq to conquer it, we are now supporting the elected government of Iraq. And even if we where trying to conquer Iraq there the odds that this would result in the US military being utterly defeated, the US broken up, and half of the country become part of a communist empire is so low as to not be worth thinking about.