Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Syria Debate

N posted:

I've been mostly against the proposed strikes on Syria, but Samantha Power's speech is pretty convincing.

M D -- Interesting academic argument. Follows the logic of LBJ's justification for the escalation of U.S. military forces in SE Asia when I was a teenager. As I look at the piece of shrapnel in my left hand from more than forty years ago, I am reminded that the incontrovertible and overwhelming evidence of the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin that lead to his decision was bogus.The incident never happened! Is the same type of thing happening again?
13 hours ago · Like · 1

Me -- MD's question is right on target.  Presidents have a strong tendency to abuse their power. 

We must learn from past mistakes or we will simply endlessly repeat them.  But we must learn the facts, not simple emotional reactions. We delayed our entry into World War II until forced into it and then were totally unprepared because we had learned the lessons of World War I. Unfortunately, we applied them emotionally rather than rationally. Hitler was, after all, not the Kaiser.

My problem with the wide American dissent on this issue is not that I regard the dissenters as factually wrong. The facts are not very clear in this case, and there are excellent arguments on both sides.  My complaint against them is that their arguments are almost totally emotional. Emotion is important, but it should not obsfucate the facts, or be allowed to shut down the higher functioning of our brains.

I think the most important lesson of the Iraq war was to keep our emotions under control and keep our brains in charge.

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