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In late January of 2008, Diane Rehm’s radio show featured a discussion of the ongoing progress — or lack of progress — in the Iraq war.  Her guests were pretty much people of the anti-war left and their sense of things — that the conduct of the war was largely a catastrophe — was not unjustified.  But I took exception to the blithe assertions that anyone who disagreed with them — John McCain was one of their particular targets — was either untroubled by the nastiness of the conflict or somehow averse to the entire idea of “peace”.  I wrote this to object; it didn’t make it onto the air.

30 January 2008

Those on the left seem to think that those on the right don’t want the Iraq war to end — that they are “pro-war”, by which they seem to mean “think war is a good thing”.

Formulate it, rather, this way: There are two ways to end a war, win or surrender.

Those on the right, including John McCain, thought there was an important goal to be achieved in Iraq — that’s why they favored going there. They still want to achieve that goal.

Those on the left thought there was no important goal to be achieved and are, therefore, untroubled by not having achieved it.

The bulk of people in the middle thought there was an important goal but that, perhaps, achieving that goal wasn’t worth what it would cost.  That is, their judgment about Iraq depended — and continues to depend — on their perception of the cost/benefit tradeoff.

© Copyright 2008, Augustus P. Lowell

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