Drivel Presented as Logic

The article in question:

I thought it of interest to post a response of sorts to an article (link posted above) that is popping up on the web. It’s an excellent example of flawed premises used to bolster a previously held belief. That is, the author has a clear belief she’s emotionally attached to and so rationalizes an argument to support it.

That’s called bad logic.

Take a read of the article, and then let’s explore her flawed premises.

Her premises:

1) The Iranian regime is dying.

Hmmm. Seems we heard that one quite a few times over the last thirty years, for sure! Estimating the longevity of any regime is a practice in futility. Remember when we thought the Soviet Union would last another century and its fall came largely as a surprise? How often have we heard over the years that North Korea or Cuba were ripe for change? Those two regimes have been “dying”, well, for longer than you or I are alive!

I well remember in 1982 high level experts predicting the of the totalitarian Saudi regime (our ostensible allies) by 1985. We’re still waiting for that one. Point is, there’s no real way of measuring whether a regime is “dying” or not. And Iran isn’t exactly a totalitarian regime. Its people do vote, for example, unlike, say, Saudi Arabia. Women can drive there. Unlike Saudi Arabia.

Dying? Could be. Might not be. The crystal ball is too cloudy to tell.

Conclusion: Her premise is at best weak and very likely flawed. She *wishes* for the regime to be “dying” and so she labels it so.

2) That sanctions are instrumental in bringing freedom to that poor country.

Seems we’ve tried that strategy with Cuba for over 50 years. Hmm. I’d like her to present one, just one, nation where sanctions have brought freedom to any nation.

Conclusion: Her premise is deeply flawed. She *wishes* that economic sanctions lead to freedom, and so she states that it is so.

3) Premise: That Iran can be convinced or forced to abandon its nuclear program like, say Libya.

I remember reading way back in the shah’s days – in 1978- that it was estimated that Iran would have a nuclear weapons expertise within 30 years. Yes, I really did read stuff like that in eighth grade.

Iran (population 76 million) is not Libya (population 6 million) It’s a very big country with a robust and ancient tradition of scholarship. Whether or not it actually manufactures nuclear weapons, it will gain the national knowledge to build them much sooner rather than later. It really does have that level of educational knowledge. Much like Japan, Australia and Taiwan have the knowledge to build such weapons if they choose. And they choose not to.

Additionally, the nuclear program is *hugely* popular in Iran. In this situation, Iran is much closer to the Pakistani nuclear model than Libya. Nuclear capability in both nations are deemed a matter of national pride. Remember when Pakistan exploded its first nuclear bomb? Pakistanis went into the streets to celebrate. The Iranians see such a capability as a sign of attaining a “great power” status, especially when its two neighbors to the east (Pakistan and India) have the bomb.

The common talk on the Iranian “street” is that it is high time for there to be a “Shiite bomb” as, in their view, there is already a “Sunni bomb” (Pakistan) and a “Hindu bomb” (Indian), never mind the “Christian bombs” of the USA, the UK, France, etc. Yes, they really do think that way.

At the popular level, if the Iranian government point blank abandoned its nuclear program, the regime *would* lose internal legitimacy.

The key in all of this is to find a path where Iran can view itself as a “great power” in the vein of powers that do not manufacture nuclear bombs. Attempting to get Iran to “forget” such knowledge is dreaming. Doing so is like getting Japan to “forget” its knowledge in nuclear technology. Can’t happen.

Conclusion: Her premise that Iran can contract nuclear amnesia is flawed. She *wishes* that there was a way to keep the nuclear genie out of the hands of the Iranian regime and so she states it is possible, regardless if it *is* possible.

4) That negotiations have “blown away” UN Security Council resolutions (I’ll leave her allusion to the resolutions “asking” alone, as tempting as it is to answer that one!).

That is, on its face, extremely flawed. The negotiations do nothing -nothing!- to undermine the UN Security Council resolutions. Rather, they are confidence-gaining measures.

Conclusion: She misunderstands the very nature of the negotiations. Her premise is flawed, and indeed, her prejudice shows through clearly with such Fox News-like accusations.

5) Premise: The world could prevent North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons.

How, I pray, short of a major war does she propose for that to happen? Every peaceful solution -especially sanctions- has been applied to North Korea. The very strategy that she wishes to be applied to Iran was tried and is tried on North Korea…and NK has the bomb!

You see the circular argument here- yes? She wishes for Iran to be treated like North Korea to prevent Iran from building a…bomb. But that strategy didn’t work in North Korea!

Conclusion: Her premise is flawed: There’s no way to tell if the world, short of war, could have stopped the North Koreans from building a bomb.

She also has some interesting accusations:

1) The president is pursuing an agenda of “appeasement”.

Note as well her emotive accusation: “Appeasement” with all its connotations of World War II.

Initial negotiations which amount to a level of confidence building measures do not, at all, amount to “appeasement”. The authors use of the term is inappropriate at best, designed to manipulate a visceral response. It weakens, not strengthens, her argument, such as it is.

2) Barack Obama is “a US leader who not only let the Syrian genocide happen”.

Here we go again with words that attempt to manipulate the audience (“genocide”).

The reality is that Barack Obama was challenged in his powers to order even a bombing raid on Syria in response to Syrian use of poison gas on its own citizens.

The reality is, further, that the US populace has little interest in yet another Middle Eastern war with little prospect of a successful exit strategy.

It’s one thing to accuse President Obama of “letting” the “Syrian genocide happen”. It’s another thing completely to actually present a reasonable and realistic course of action that President Obama could pursue to stop such matters.

It’s qualifies as a wild accusation.

In short, the article is drivel, loaded with very poor premises and wild accusations.

An “Invented” People?

I posted the below response to Paul Moses’ excellent December 10, 2011 article in Commonweal, “Newt, Gingrich, John Paul II and the Palestinians”. I noticed a flurry of negative postings to Moses and thought it appropriate to post the below response (slightly edited here), more or less defending his article:

All peoples are “invented” at one time or another. For goodness sake, Americans became an “invented” people in 1776. Yes, Americans, to use Newt’s very poor word choice, essentially “invented” themselves. You can argue that God “invented’ Israel by His covenant with Abraham. Or that a Frankish tribe eventually “invented” modern France. Go ahead and try to tell the French that they’re an “invented” people. Their disdain for such a label would be very understandable,  just as the Palestinian reaction is quite understandable.

Newt, Newt, Newt.

Gingrich used a provocative term and did so evidently on purpose.   Compare his method to Tom Friedman’s.  With care and respect, Friedman described how he came to the conclusion that the Palestinians are now a sovereign people, citing the first Intifada as the moment when the Palestinians became a separate people beyond all dispute.

Compare, too how John Paul II carefully recognized the Palestinians as a sovereign people with a right to a homeland, all the while recognizing Israel’s right to exist in safety as a sovereign nation.

Then note how Gingrich went about it. How divisive and belittling his word choice was. Do people on the right hand side of the political aisle really want to nominate someone for President who so purposely alienates others? Considering Gingrich’s word choice, he used the phrase to draw attention to himself (his usual M.O.) more than anything else. A form of selfishness, if you will.

Rather, behold what we are witnessing here and now: If the Palestinians weren’t a people a century ago, they surely are now. We are witnessing, perhaps, the birth of a people. Let’s not let alienating word choices smear such a rare event.

I am all for Israel’s existence as a nation and as a people.  I recognize it with reverence and honor.   However, recognizing one people (the Israelis) does not mean belittling another (the Palestinians).  It’s in Israel’s long term interest to come to some level of accommodation and respect with the Palestinian people.  To not do so can only harm Israel.  Similarly, it’s in the Palestinians’ long term interest to come to some level of accommodation with Israel.  The talk by extremists on the one side to kick all of the Palestinians out of the area is as shrill and as eerily similar as the shouts of the extremists who wish to push Israel into the sea.  Both views are unrealistic.  Both views are ultimately murderous, and both views obviously make things worse.  Perhaps it’s the extremists on both sides who should be sent somewhere far away where social justice is an alien concept.  Like Mars.

Reference:  New Gingrich, John Paul II and the Palestinians