Still. It's a bit like that.
My latest is on Iraq. Apparently I'm a flaming liberal!
Considering the interests of the Iraqi people, the U.S. and Allied troops, and the honor and integrity of this great nation, we must stay in Iraq until the job is done.
We may never know if Saddam Hussein actually had W.M.D.'s in Iraq. Reports do show that he had acquired W.M.D.'s and may have filtered them through other countries over the past 20 years. Regardless, Saddam and his government were responsible for the murders of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens. There were ordered executions of political opponents and advocates of free speech.
I firmly believe that if we pull out of Iraq right now we will lose the integrity and honor that American servicemen and women are fighting for this very hour. We cannot leave the Iraqi's with false hopes. We must defeat the enemy on their ground or we will have to fight that war on our turf, amongst our neighborhoods, and with our children watching it with their own eyes.
To which I responded:
What job? Which job are we doing? Fighting both sides of a civil war? Establishing democracy in a region barely governable by tyrants? Stealing the oil? Getting rid of the WMDs? Attacking them there so they won't swim the Atlantic and attack us here? To replace a dictator who opposed the terrorist with terrorists and funding operations for terrorists?
Most of your arguments are sunk cost arguments. They are the flawed logic that leads people to wrongly refuse to cut their losses. The logic which makes people bet their bottom dollar on bad cards, or support a losing effort simply because we have lost by supporting it. The costs and losses, failures and successes, in the past, are irrelevant to the choice to stay. The question you should be asking yourself isn't how much we've lost for so little and what we can do to make it mean something. You should be asking yourself if, we know today what we know today... would you put the troops on the ground? If Iraq is as war-torn and messed up as today, do we put boots on the ground knowing what we know? There are no weapons of mass destruction, no Saddam, no greetings as liberators. Do you invade a gutted country with little hope for anything? I say the answer is no. Now, the sunk cost fallacy says that each time you weigh the decision, what you've "invested" is irrelevant. The millions of displaced and murdered Iraqis, the couple trillion dollars this war has cost, the thousands of American Soldiers lives, and the international loss of faith are irrelevant, not to mention the bogus reasons for waging the war. The question is, would you put boots on the ground today? If the answer is no, then we shouldn't have boots on the ground. Just as you shouldn't invest another billion dollars in a project which has produced nothing and doesn't show signs of producing something. Just as you shouldn't keep calling to the river with a hand you invested too much with on the flop. You don't throw good resources after bad.
You cut your losses with the situation you have today.
As you brought up some of these pointless notes allow me to address them:
* The only reports showing Saddam Hussein had some W.M.D.s were the once receipts of those weapons we gave them during the Iran-Iraq war. After that point the good intelligence suggested that he wasn't developing them, and it took a considerable amount of cherry picking to invent a story that he had them or was even developing them. We had weapons inspectors on the grounds before Iraq's infrastructure was destroyed. If we actually wanted to look for these phantom weapons that would have been the time to do it. We had the world community ready to pressure the hell of Iraq. We had that threat contained. If that was the intent, deciding to go to war anyway was beyond stupid.
We cannot justify staying in Iraq today because the president mislead the American people. What happened then is a treason, but has nothing to do with the question at hand. Is it worth it to stay, when we look at what we can gain or lose in the future? We know how much we are losing in this war, and we know what we won't lose if we leave.
* As for the question of "IF" he had weapons. The Duelfer couldn't have been any more clear, there were no weapons of mass destructions in Iraq. Just as Iran has, as we learned recently, shut down its program as well. The entire line of debate concerning the completely botched job selling the American people this war doesn't matter. Yes, it was horrible. Yes, it was wrong. No, it doesn't matter.
We cannot justify staying in Iraq today because the president mislead the American people. Presenting phantom "reports" which suggest he magicked away his reportedly massive stockpiles doesn't matter at all. To put this in perspective, imagine if Saddam had massive stockpiles, we found them and we removed them all during the war and we are now in a situation where Iraq is exactly like it is, and we managed to stop a massive threat. This would perhaps justify the invasion in 2003, but it would not justify a continued presence in 2007. Again, that's the sunk cost fallacy. What are we going to gain if we stay there? What are we going to lose?
* As for the claim that the war is justified because Saddam is a bad man, that is also a sunk cost. It doesn't matter. We aren't fighting Saddam anymore, we are watching as millions of Iraqis are murdered and displaced. While we try to secure a small area in order for the Iraqi government to sit around and do nothing.
Sure, Saddam was bad. There are a lot of bad men in the world. However, it doesn't justify staying. It cannot justify staying. If we were still fighting Saddam, that might have been a point to argue. Though, we could have done that with a sniper bullet rather than a full ground war. But we aren't still fighting Saddam.
* The claim that pulling out of Iraq will dishonor the integrity of the troops is laughable. They do what we ask of them, even if we just set them in the middle of a civil war and give them nothing to do. Just as bringing them home will be easily followed.
They have done nothing wrong. They have not been dishonored nor have had their integrity questioned. The Administration is dishonored. The Administration is without integrity. The reason the sunk cost fallacy is so powerful is because of pride. People hate to realize that they lost a lot and gained nothing (less than nothing in this case). Losing a lot more in order to pretend a chance exists that those losses are not in vain is dishonorable and shows an extreme lack of integrity. Declare victory and bring the troops home. They did everything we asked of them, and though those who asked were incompetent it should not, and would not, make the troops look bad.
* The majority of the "enemy" only exists on their turf. We are talking about people who have some stolen Iraqi weapons from depots we left unguarded with perhaps an old Iraqi soldier from Saddam's disbanded army. These aren't the kinds of people who can fly across the Atlantic very easily.
I will however grant you that, of all of your arguments, this is the one and only argument which isn't sunk cost. It is the only argument which doesn't say... we screwed up so bad we must stay. We screwed up so bad that we might as well stay. We screwed up so bad that we will look bad if we don't stay. We gained a small bit for the massive losses and those things justify our staying. We are actually discussing future downside here. We are looking at a consequence of leaving with regard to future events. This weak nothing of a pathetic argument is the only shred of anything which even remotely qualifies as a reason to stay. How sad is that? The only 'real' argument you have is that if we don't have easily available American troops to be murdered by cowardly roadside bombs some poor Iraqi is going to travel five thousand miles to stick out like a sore thumb and try to kill some American here. How about we spend one tiny fraction of what we spent on the Iraq war to make sure people can't do that rather than putting troops in harms way as fodder! If the Iraqis don't have some local Americans to kill they will have to come to our turf where they have no upper hand. That isn't an impressive argument. Moreso when one considers the facts that our boots on the ground in Iraq are breeding more terror. Terrorism numbers have been skyrocketing as a result of our actions. And in the future, looking at the numbers we will have more terror if we stay than if we go.
We will save 8 billion dollars a month, thousands upon thousands of American lives, and prevent terror by leaving. If we stay, we will lose billions, respect, lives, and continue to make Iraq a hotbed of terror.
We should cut our losses. Take our victories, declare victory, come home, throw a parade for the troops and focus our efforts on security. I don't care if doing so will dishonor the Administration for making really bad choices.
Which I daresay is pretty good... which could mean anything.