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The purity problem, part II: The "clean hands" fallacy

Yesterday, the "impure motives" boogeyman raised its ugly head again.

Now, the world isn't black and white. Events seldom have a single cause. It's usually a confluence of circumstances that lead to thir occurrence.

One example I cited recently was the W. Mark Felt/Deep Throat story. A great deal of fuss was made about his motive for leaking the information to the Washington Post. It was my contention that there was no single reason why, but a combination of factors that led to his decision to do so.

Another is the "reason we went to war" silliness. What was THE reason we went to war with Iraq? This is usually done by the war's opponents, who want the supporters to tie all their arguments behind a single point, that the critics than can scrutinize attack, dissect, and discredit to "invalidate" the entire war. The problem is, as I said a while ago, there were numerous reasons to go to war.

I have a bit of a story teller in me. Often, when I feel the need to make a point, I will do so in the form of a satirical account that, I feel, expresses my thesis better (and in a more entertaining fashion)than a long, drawn-out argument. It's a technique that's served me well.

So, I'm going to go back and rewrite history again. This time, it's going to be a Presidential news conference, where President Bush spells out his reasons for going to war. I'd like to thank Dan Rather and CBS for giving me the wonderful phrase "fake, but accurate" to describe the following:

"...and so, ladies and gentlemen, as you can see by the handout, we have numerous reasons why at this point we believe that we have no choice but to remove Saddam from power by force. Are there any questions?"

"Mr. President, you have given us quite a list here. Are these in any particular order of importance?"

"No, they are not. We don't consider any of them any more or less significant than the others."

"But some of them must be more urgent than others. Which would you say is the most compelling reason?"

"I wouldn't."

"How about this one about Weapons of Mass Destruction? Do you believe that Saddam poses a clear and present danger to the United States?"

"I said in my State of the Union address that he does not, and that has not changed."

"But does he possess WMDs? Do we have conclusive proof that he does?"

"No we do not. But that is irrelevant."

"Mr. President, how can that be irrelevant? How can he pose a clear and present danger to the United States -- one serious enough to justify a war -- if he doesn't have WMDs?"

"As I just said, he does not pose a 'clear and present danger,' but that very uncertainty is in itself a cause for military action.

One of the conditions of the cease-fire that ended the first Gulf War was that Saddam verifiably destroy all his WMDs, and submit to inspections afterward to prove he has not resumed the production and stockpiling of new ones. He has repeatedly failed to do so.

Think of Saddam as a convicted felon on parole after the first Gulf War. One of the terms of his parole was that he submit to periodic drug tests. Now, he's repeatedly refused to submit to tests, set his own conditions on taking those tests, and he's been caught several times trying to use a "whizzinator."

Further, he's not supposed to have any weapons, and to allow the police to search his home every now and then to verify that. He's blocked officers at his door, he's demanded that they leave certain rooms alone, that they call ahead and make appointments, and obstructed it in other numerous ways.

Now, as Saddam's parole officer, we don't try to find a way to "catch" him with weapons or arrange for him to take a drug test that he might fail. We toss his ass into jail, and THEN go looking for drugs or weapons. Whether we find them or not is irrelevant; his offense was failing to cooperate with the terms of his parole."

"So, Mr. President, what will you do if we don't find WMDs in Iraq? Won't that invalidate the entire war, and shouldn't you resign in disgrace?"

"Oh, go ahead and write whatever you want. You were going to do that anyway."


Comments (16)

Well done (again) (I hadn't... (Below threshold)

Well done (again) (I hadn't seen the Kerry/Pearl Harbor speech -- fabulous).

for great story telling i r... (Below threshold)
icemaniceman:

for great story telling i recommend bill whittle

http://www.ejectejecteject.com/

"the world isn't black and ... (Below threshold)
Omni:

"the world isn't black and white"

But to a liberal, it IS... that's one of their biggest problems.

Iceman, you're <a href="htt... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Iceman, you're preaching to the choir here.

Yep, Bill Whittle is awesom... (Below threshold)

Yep, Bill Whittle is awesome. And, Jay, that was very well done.

Jay, again (as usual) you a... (Below threshold)

Jay, again (as usual) you are right on. We went to war because Saddam invaded Kuwait. Then he spent 12 years pissing on his agreement rather then in the cup, so to speak. It was long past time this threat to the world was dealt with.
DKK

Actually, Omni, the opposit... (Below threshold)
Red Five:

Actually, Omni, the opposite is true with liberals. They have to "nuance" everything, when it applies to liberals and liberal ideology. When it comes to Rethuglicans and what we do, however, that's when it becomes black & white. Mostly black.

Keep dodging! But BUSH STIL... (Below threshold)

Keep dodging! But BUSH STILL LIED. He said Iraq had WMDs. HE SAID IT.

THAT IS THE ONLY CAUSE! ONLY CAUSE! YOU CAN'T SPIN YOUR WAY OUT OF THIS YOU NAZIS!

Dear Bush Lied:We to... (Below threshold)

Dear Bush Lied:
We totally agree, but you won't get much support from the reality-challenged fascist dingers here.

http://www.liberalavenger.com/

Jay: Please see: "Stealing... (Below threshold)
JRK:

Jay: Please see: "Stealing the Fire," a film about the Iraq nuclear connection with Germany. Amazingly, this film by (co-creator) Eric Nadler of The Nation focuses on the centrifuges necessary for nuclear weapons and how they were obtained (from Germany) by Saddam. I notice at the official website the filmmakers have dropped the Iraq indictment for WMDs from the synopsis, but they haven't re-edited the film to remove the indictment of Iraq from the film itself. If only the Bush administration had simply bought the rights to a screening of the film and televised it both before the war and during his campaign, we wouldn't be having the liberals, leftists and their facilitators in the MSM constantly whining about 'Bush lied.' If one chose to ignore the warnings of the film (developed before 9/11 but not released til 2002,) at least the fault would lie with Bush-bashing The Nation, not Bush. How delicious that the best evidence for the invasion of Iraq was made by the hardest left magazine in the US! This movie played on Sundance Channel for months--though no one else seemed to have watched it. It is a serious mistake for Bush and Rove to have ignored this brilliant opportunity to allow the opposition in Europe and the US to make their case for war in Iraq. Germany, a hypocritical ally that undermined our case in Iraq, is meticulously indicted for complicity with Saddam in the film, co-produced by John Friedman, the Cannes and Academy Award winner of Hotel Terminus: the Life and Times of Klaus Barbie. You usually don't get an opportunity for the kind of credentialized filmmakers and leftists to make your case for war, but the film indeed does this.

Nazis. Sheesh. Hey, I'm not... (Below threshold)

Nazis. Sheesh. Hey, I'm not a Nazi! That means BUSHLIED is a liar!

LibAv, BushL, in my year an... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

LibAv, BushL, in my year and a half or so at Wizbang, I've banned two people that I recall -- and both for egregious offenses. And I have been banned from numerous liberal sites, including DU TWICE, for utterly ludicrous reasons.

I'm tempted to ban you both out of sheer spite, but that's not the way we do things around here. We believe in maintaining an open forum. Besides, it's much easier and more fun to simply mock the idiots and use their own stupidity against them.

J.

Yeah, too many of the war c... (Below threshold)

Yeah, too many of the war critics think that a case for war is too complicated if it can't be reduced to chant-able rhyming couplets that's simple enough for dope-addled peaceniks to memorize.

Along with the documentary ... (Below threshold)
Meezer:

Along with the documentary mentioned above, there was a Frontline (not exactly a right wing mouthpiece) program about a giant cannon that Saddam was building that would fire as far as Israel. There were pictures of the huge barrel as well as diagrams and other documentation about where he was getting the parts (mostly Germany). I have never heard of it since then and I wondered why, in the run up to the war. I think there was a lot of information that could have been used by the administration and wasn't for whatever reason.

Meezer: The documentary wa... (Below threshold)
JRK:

Meezer: The documentary was fairly good, but not quite as interesting or informative as the HBO movie on the subject: The Doomsday Gun, starring Frank Langella and Cilve Owen (1994)--scripted, ironically, by blacklisted '40s Communist, Walter Berstein!
The film might have made todays Mickey Marxists flush with shame at their discounting of Saddam's aggressive pursuit of WMDs. Good film and a scary one. Seems during the Clinton administration, even Hollywood Communists recognized the frightening prospects of WMDs in the Iraq leader's hands.

Oops...forgot to mention, D... (Below threshold)
JRK:

Oops...forgot to mention, Doomsday Gun also stars Kevin Spacey!




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