hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
. . .and here is the second, in response to this Yglesias post :

There's one point I wish someone would make about these constant assertions by Michael Totten et al. (I single him out because he seems the most decent, and should know better) that some person or the other "wants America to lose" or is "not anti-war, just on the other side". "Wants America to lose" if you take that accusation seriously, as you should, does not just mean pessimistic assessments or strong criticism of the Iraq war. It means, to use Orwell's example, if this anti-war person knew Saddam's whereabouts, they would not call Gen Sanchez, they would instead call Al-Jazeera and wail "Saddam, be careful, they're after you!". Isn't that the actual meaning of accusing someone of "wanting America to lose"?

If these accusers really believe their political opponents "want America to lose", they're fools. If they know better but use such ugly rhetoric because it feels so good and succeeds in cowing and intimidating the more weak-minded of their political opponents, they're intellectual bullies. If they're merely lashing out in a thoughtless fashion. then they should apologize, forthwith.

Also, Matt, one quibble: the US is not going to be "defeated" in Iraq. The Iraq war can be considered a mistake only in terms of number of people killed (versus number of lives saved) and in terms of opportunity cost, and whether it has made America safer or less so, more hated or less so, more loved or less so, not in terms of absolute victory or defeat. In absolute terms, victory of some sort was inevitable from the moment war was declared against Saddam's fourth-rate, demoralized military; Only the costs, benefits and nature of that victory was in doubt.

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