Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Illogical Chickenhawk Argument

One of the favorite arguments of people debating someone who supports the war in Iraq is to ask with all sincerity, "If you believe in the war so much, why don't you join the army." This is a completely vacuous and illogical argument.

As citizens, we pay taxes to support the government to do many things we as individuals can’t do ourselves, such as protect the country, fund schools, clean up after disasters, keep farm prices artificially high, or subsidize left wing propaganda in the name of balance (think PBS).

To follow the logic of the chickenhawk argument, I want to know why everyone who thinks FEMA should help the people of New Orleans hasn’t quit there job and gone to New Orleans to build houses? Why haven’t everyone who wants better education flocked to the nearest inner city school to read to the children? If you believe in farm subsidies, why aren’t you on your hands and knees in a cornfield in Nebraska pulling weeds?

The answer, you pay taxes so the government can provide for the common good. An individual does not have to be willing to quit a job and change their lives to make their support of any particular policy valid.

24 Comments:

Blogger mkchicago said...

Amen.

6:55 AM  
Blogger George W. Bush said...

You're employ of keen rhetorical devices is only skirting and dodging the issue here. War is not comparable to these things. It may be easy for your to equate death and destruction with the "common good", but I ask, what common good is being accomplished here? Our country's coffers (paid for by you) are being robbed to subsidize this endeavor and your countrymen's lives are being sacrificed. You have the audacity to compare this to wheat subsiidies in Kansas? Your chest thumping rings hollow, I'm sure they could find you an administrative job (even with your hurt leg).I'll let MR. Endo'History speak for me here:



"I obviously didn't say that only combat-ready males are allowed to have an opinion in favor of war. If you think this cause is worth dying/killing for, and you are physically able to do both but choose not to do either, you'd better be able to give a reason why it's only worth the lives of others, and not your own. You obviously don't think it's worth your life, otherwise you'd be there taking the fight to the islamofascists.............

If you're 1) a cheerleader for the war, and 2) think it's a cause worthy of an undetermined number of American lives, 3) and able-bodied young man/woman, and 4) know that the armed forces are failing to meet recruitment goals because of it, then I think it's absolutley a justifiable question to ask you why you haven't signed up. Why wouldn't that be a valid question?"

Chasing down boogey men in the desert doesn't equate to protecting our borders. You guys have been sold so far up the river you've lost your paddle, now all you can rely on is the current of propaganda to keep pushing you on.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

Your outrage is misplaced. It may be "vacuous and illogical" to call a supporter of the war a hypocrite or a coward for not enlisting; but inquiring of a war supporter their willingness to fight and die for the cause they champion is appropriate and legitimate. In the postings I've seen, nobody's called anyone a coward or a hypocrite for not signing up.

To what do you hawks attribute the recruiting shortfall? If our national security is truly threatened, and a majority of Americans understand and believe this, why is there not a clamor to sign up and defend our freedom?

"You pay taxes so the government can provide for the common good," says hurtleg. Yeah, but providing for the common good is only one thing the gov't does. It also invades foreign countries, removes evil dictators, searches house to house for terrorists, builds schools, secures airport roads, etc, etc, etc. Giant suitcases full of tax dollars can't do this; only human people (and, perhaps someday, robots) can. Since as of this writing, America hasn't built those robots, and can't yet conscript foreign labor to perform these functions, her citizens are called upon to fufill the duties of providing for the common defense. Absent outsourcing, robots, or conscription, we're looking for a few good men. What more appropriate place to look than among those men who argue tirelessly about the necessity of this operation?

8:49 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

"You guys have been sold so far up the river you've lost your paddle, now all you can rely on is the current of propaganda to keep pushing you on."
I don't think I could have come up with a better description for those who support the Chickenhawk arguement.
Since you think it is a valid style of argument I'll supply you with the right wing equivilants:

If you don't support the war, move to Canada/France.
If you favor tax increases, throw an extra 10,000 in with your return.

If you are against poverty, sell your TV/Car/luxury good, cancel your vacation and donate it to the poor.
Against arson? Join the fire department.
Hate crime? Become a policeman.

Restated:
If you're ant-poverty I think it's absolutley a justifiable question to ask you why you haven't sold your luxury goods. Why wouldn't that be a valid question?"

I have a few thousand more examples, but I think (hope)you get the point.

8:49 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

It is quite simply not a valid argument to say that "if you do not totally uproot your life and change its direction with a career change in furtherance of one of your political beliefs you are a hypocrite". That others volunteer to do so does not change that.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

Boy, mkchicago sure has strong feelings on this one. And why shouldn't he? If all the supporters of the war were rounded up and sent to basic trianing, there would be far fewer supporters of the war.

Hell, even if I supported the war, I wouldn't want to be blown up in it. And frankly, if candy-asses like Paul Wolfowitz donned boots and a flak jacket and protected our national security, I'd feel a lot less nationally secure.

I reiterate: calling a war supporter a hypocrite for not signing up is indeed disingenuous, but nobody is doing that here. I have scoured the posts and cannot find the word "hypocrite" directed at anyone. Stand down, soldier.

We doves just want to understand why recruiting levels are down in the face of a conflict hawks feel is so vital to our national security. In WW2, 13-year olds were forging their documents to get in the army. If we are to believe this conflict has the same moral immediacy as our previous fights against fascism and tyranny, what gives?

9:32 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I guess I'm not really asking the chickenhawks to necessarily go to war. I'm simply observing the huge, gigantic, gaping chasm between their rhetoric and their personal committment.

The banner they carry is, roughly, the following: Saddam represented an immanent threat to American security because of his weapons program. He's allied with the Islamofascist movement that threatens to erase the gains of the Enlightenment through terrorism. It's America's responsibility to rid the world of bloody dictators.

If taken seriously, these are world-historic threats to our existence as a nation, and they imply world-historic responsibilities. Even the name "islamofascism" is meant to convey that the threat is on the same level as the that posed by Eurofascism in the 30s and 40s.

If you really believe these things--as our proverbial grandfathers did--and acknowledge that your country is in dire need of new recruits at this time, it says something about your committment that you're not willing to put yourself in harm's way to defend your freedom that is supposedly under attack.

So, you don't have to go to war. I'd just like to hear you dial down the rhetoric and say: "I think the Iraq war is sort of important, but not important enough for me to take a leave of absence and go risk my ass." That would be an acceptable middle ground for me.

As for MK's analogies:

"If you're ant-poverty I think it's absolutley a justifiable question to ask you why you haven't sold your luxury goods. Why wouldn't that be a valid question?"

It's a perfectly valid question to ask a Christian whose savior commands him to do just that. As for people like me who don't believe in Christ's message, and don't see poverty/wealth as a zero-sum game, and therefore don't think that selling my worldly possessions will relieve world poverty, we're content to give generously to charitable programs that abate poverty and be politically active in causes we believe will do the same.

The reason your analogies are faulty is that there's not a street crime explosion and a lack of policemen to deal with it, or an arson explosion and a lack of firefighters. FEMA has enough specialists to deal with natural disasters; their problem is that they unfortunately have a Republican administration running them, and me going down to Louisiana is going to help that at all.

On the other hand, you claim there's a world-hitoric challenge to your democratic ideals, and your country is in dire need of your *physical* presence in Iraq, and is asking you to serve. So it's not that fact that you don't serve that bothers me, because I, like you, steadfastly refuse to go to Iraq and protect American security. It's the fact that everything about your rhetoric combines with your lack of service to suggest that your committment is not all it's cracked up to be.

10:26 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Jeff, I think you missed an assumption in the analogy that was stated in the post:

"If you're anti-poverty I think it's absolutley a justifiable question to ask you why you haven't sold your luxury goods ( and donate the surplus to the poor ). Why wouldn't that be a valid question?"

I'm a perfectly happy to say "I think the Iraq war is sort of (actually very)important, but not important enough for me to take a leave of absence and go risk my ass."

It's pretty much the flip side of why you don't donate down to the subsistence level. I really thought that all of this was so blinkingly obvious that it didn't need thousands of words of exposition though.

10:42 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

If you want to say there is a huge, gigantic, gaping chasm between (my) rhetoric and (my) personal committment I'll accept that. Provided, of course, you accept the same for not living just above the subsistence level. (n.b. This also sounds a heck of lot like I'm being called a hypocrite.)

11:06 AM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

More distortions of the actual record leading to war.

Jeff said,"The banner they carry is, roughly, the following: Saddam represented an immanent threat to American security because of his weapons program." The President never said immanent threat. In his State of the Union address [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/01/20020129-11.html (I don't know how to do the hypertag, but here is the link]the President said,

" We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer."

This is acting premptively before the danger is immenent. The action is analogous to the allies standing up to Hitler in 1936 when he reoccupied the Rhineland, before he had the power to invade other countries.

I'm not as concerned with the islamofasists erasing the gains of the enlightenment as I am with them killing thousands of Americans at regular intervals. This isn't some mission to make the world better becasue we can or should, its about protecting Americans (which I consider part of the common good the government is responsible for).

11:14 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"If you want to say there is a huge, gigantic, gaping chasm between (my) rhetoric and (my) personal committment I'll accept that. Provided, of course, you accept the same for not living just above the subsistence level."

As I said, nothing about my beliefs regarding poverty makes it necessary for me, you or anybody else to donate the proceeds from their luxury goods to the poor. I give generously to charity, am active in a political party that I think will significantly abate poverty, and my day job is with an organization that makes significant contributions to the fight to eradicate poverty and AIDS in Africa. You could certainly fault me for my views/strategies not being aggressive enough, but I think my actions are in line with my philosophy.

You guys who support the war, however, are doing what to "support the war"? Blogging in favor of it? Wearing a yellow ribbon? But, since you're "perfectly happy to say "I think the Iraq war is sort of (actually very)important, but not important enough for me to take a leave of absence and go risk my ass," then I've got no beef with you.

So again, when it comes to poverty, I believe that a) it will always be with us, and b) the right approach is one of incremental changes and improvements to the structures that can prevent poverty.

A war supporter must, by definition, believe that the right approach is to rain down missiles on the enemy and send lots of troops in to secure the area. Therefore, when there ain't enough troops signing up, I think your beliefs should point you pretty definitively in the direction of the recruiter's office.

12:22 PM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

'A war supporter must, by definition, believe that the right approach is to rain down missiles on the enemy and send lots of troops in to secure the area.'

Now you are arguing tactics. In many countries the best force may be a couple of dozen green berets, not an armoured corps pounding down mainstreet.

Doctrine for war fighting has changed dramatically in the last 20 years(only some of it because of technology). Large mass consription armies like in WWII are no longer useful in this day and age. No one in the military wants a draft or go back to a 12 million man army like WWII.

12:59 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

So when it comes to war, I believe that a) it will always be with us, and b) the right approach is one of incremental changes and improvements to the structures that can prevent war.

When there ain't enough $$ for the poor, I think your beliefs should point you pretty definitively in the direction of the pawn shop.

Jeff, we could do (and may have already done) this tango ad naseum but I really don't see why I should be required to defend myself on this any more than you should have to say

"I think that fighting poverty is sort of (actually very)important, but not important enough for me to sell my non necessities "

If you want to make this (superfluous) statement then I've got no beef with you.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

MK & Hurtleg:

I think you guys are missing my point, which was about your actions being inconsistent with your philosophy, but whatever.

If all you're doing to support the war is paying your taxes and blogging with me, herbman and germanicus about it, I think the seriousness with which you regard it is open to question.

We'll leave it at this: My attitude towards poverty is such that I'm content doing the aforementioned things that I do to fight it. Your attitudes towards the war are such that you're content doing whatever it is you do to support the war. That's fair, isn't it?

1:43 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Sure it's fair, but that leaves it exactly where we were several thousand words ago. The point of all this is still lost on me.
I guess you do "something" which by some magical standard is "enough" re: poverty. We do "nothing" (outside of blogging and taxes) re: the war which by some magical standard is insufficient.
Personally I found the whole discusion ridiculous from the get go. (So what does that say about me for making so many comment?)

1:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

OK, we're not talking about the war anymore. We're now talking about logic. I think that we have to be able to agree on premises in order to have arguments that are of any value at all.

When I say: "If you support the war because you believe Saddam was a threat to America, etc., then you should be prepared to go too," I am assuming something about your philosophy vis-a-vis the war. I'm assuming you believe that:

1. Americans should go/be sent to Iraq to kill and die for their country, and;

2. that you're not an elitist who thinks his life is worth more than the lives of the ones you support being sent to Iraq.

If both of these assumptions are correct, then I fail to see how my first statement is unreasonable. For example, if the second assumption were incorrect, I might consider you a morally depraved person, but I couldn't argue with your logic, which is what I'm doing. Do you disagree that these are the necessary assumptions, or do you personally reject either one of them?

Your statement to me is "if you oppose poverty, you should be willing to sell all your luxury items and donate the proceeds to the poor." The assumptions you have to make for this statement to actually hit some kind of a contradiction in my philosophy are:

1. that I believe that people should donate the proceeds from their luxury items to anti-poverty programs, and that this would end or severely scale back poverty, and;

2. I'm not an elitist who thinks only others should donate their worldly goods to charity.

If those assumptions aren't met, then you're not pointing out any contradictions; you're just making a general statement about how to end poverty. Well, the first assumption doesn't describe any position that I maintain. So now what?

Lead us out of this illogical morass, MK.

3:36 PM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Jeff,
We are now officially at ad nauseum.
This is one TREMENDOUS LEAP of logic. It ignores any responsibilities or ties I have it home. It assumes I should be willing to endure tremendous upheaval in my personal life for the sake of just one of my numerous beliefs. The mathematics of your proposition are something like 1 + 2 = 5000. They may very well be necessary presumptions, but they are no where near sufficient to reach the conclusion you do.
Hell, I asked you to part with your TV , you want me to totally uproot. And yes I do ask others to do that. Others who volunteered for it.

You also play fast and loose with the assumptions of your own dilema . I never said anything about severely scaling back poverty or ending poverty. I made a basic assumption that you were not a total libertarian when it came to government redistribution of wealth. I'm sure you could get $40 for your TV set, and I'm sure there is some one out there who could use it more than you. If you believe in any government redistribution then "logically" you should support that policy to the utmost. After all 1 + 2 = 5000

The bottom line is that you have created a litmus test for personal action out of the blue which for some reason you think applies to this one particular political belief. You have done nothing to differentiate my 'responsibilities' from yours. If it applies to me it applies to you. Every argument you have used to send me to Iraq sends you to the pawn shop(or volunteer fire brigade, etc.) If my "logic" sounds preposterous, I freely admit it is. Guess where I got it.

As I stated before (ad naseum was the tip off) , I've devoted way more time than I should have to a total non-issue. If you want to persist in beating this dead horse be my guest. If I don't entirely tune it out I will keep insisting you fulfilll your newfound politically based responsabilities. Pot, kettle ,black my friend.
I believe Dieter put it best when he said "Your story has become tiresome. NOW IS THE TIME ON SPROKETS WHEN WE DANCE!

7:23 PM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

mkchicago clumsily avoids confronting Jeff's clearly elucidated contentions, by ascribing to him a philosophy to which he has repeatedly insisted he does not subscribe. The logical inconsistency implicit in mkchicago's philosophy - that he supports a policy of war, while maintaining an unwillingness to participate in it - does not parallel any inconsistency in Jeff's philosophy, which mk has several times now fallaciously elucidated.

One holds certain beliefs, and must act accordingly. Jeff makes no claim that he believes giving away everything he has will eradicate poverty, whereas mk claims (or rather seems to contend, I haven't heard him express it clearly) that war is necessary to eradicate terrorism (tyranny? WMDs? something like that). If Jeff believed what mk claims he believes, and refused to act accordingly, Jeff would be guilty of a logical equivalency here. But he doesn't, despite mk repeatedly claiming he does.

As far as beating it into the ground goes, I suppose mk would have been pleased to end the matter with his first, simple "Amen" post. But the questions raised have yet to be addressed, let alone resolved. (Never mind my inquiry to hawks about to what they attribute the recruiting shortfall, if their cause is so right and just; were I in their boots, I probably wouldn't touch that one either.) I agree with Jeff, this is Logic 101. You'd think the rigors of a law school education would empower a fellow to follow the train of a simple syllogism. Then again, evasiveness and misdirection (mk seems to be the only one who feels this conversation is going in circles, and wants to drop it) is probably several semesters of required coursework.

It's a clear question: If you believe a war is right and just, are you willing to participate in it?

To make it easier on mk, I will go out on a limb here and say that I supported our military intervention in the Balkans, and, by logical extension, I was willing to fight and die in that war. I did not need to, as we still had a volunteer army with ample amounts of competent soldiers to carry out the task. But had I been conscripted, I would have served (or at least attempted to serve - like many of us, I may well have been deemed unfit for combat), since I believed in the cause. If I believed in the cause and refused to serve in the war, I would be a hypocrite. Perfectly simple.

Before offering him further opportunities for evasion and misdirection, let it be said that mkchicago has never, in fact, claimed that he would not be willing to participate in a war he believed is right and just. But he hasn't claimed he would be, either. Were he to contend the latter, he would be maintaining a logically consistent philosophy. The former, we're back in the morass.

9:17 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

So you guys are fiscal libertarians now? I'm glad to hear it!

9:42 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

Andy, that's a nice trick using the ample troops and "not conscripted" theory. But why under this theory of personal-action backing-political-beliefs did you not have to volunteer? Why does military neccessity matter if believe in the cause?
(I can't believe I'm taking the bait. You're lucky I'm bored today)

9:52 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

"One holds certain beliefs, and must act accordingly. Jeff makes no claim that he believes giving away everything he has will eradicate poverty, whereas mk claims (or rather seems to contend, I haven't heard him express it clearly) that war is necessary to eradicate terrorism."

Once again I never said Jeff claimed "that he believes giving away everything he has will eradicate poverty". My basic assumptions (yet to be corrected) were
1)"you were not a total libertarian when it came to government redistribution of wealth"
2)"I'm sure you could get $40 for your TV set"
3)"I'm sure there is some one out there who could use it more than you"
I then applied a variation on the magical formula "One holds certain beliefs, and must act accordingly"
Voila ! Pawn Shop.
It's the Voila! Iraq part I have never understood. (that's the 1+ 2 = 5000 part)

I have played no more fast and loose with the assumptions than you(collectively) have.

10:05 AM  
Blogger mkchicago said...

This is interesting.
Andy said "It's a clear question: If you believe a war is right and just, are you willing to participate in it? "

Well, Jeff cited this as evidence of his actions to reduce poverty:
"am active in a political party that I think will significantly abate poverty"

Does that mean I'm now off the hook with you guys b/c I "participated".

One further correction. Andy tried to thow me this bone:
"Before offering him further opportunities for evasion and misdirection, let it be said that mkchicago has never, in fact, claimed that he would not be willing to participate in a war he believed is right and just. But he hasn't claimed he would be, either."

I actually said this:
'I'm a perfectly happy to say "I think the Iraq war is sort of (actually very)important, but not important enough for me to take a leave of absence and go risk my ass." '

10:27 AM  
Blogger Germanicu$ said...

If answering a direct question ("If you believe a war is right and just, are you willing to participate in it?") with a non-equivalent comparison ("Well, Jeff cited this as evidence ...") isn't the law-school textbook definition of evasiveness, I don't know what is.

Whatever. mk clearly isn't losing sleep over the logical inconsistencies in his personal philosophy, so I'll drop it (though I don't doubt he will post a final word on the matter, another common lawyer m.o.). Hopefully he will have a clear conscience, good TV reception, and a comfortable couch from which to observe the invasion of Syria.

12:42 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Here's where I think the comparisons fall short.

Jeff does not believe that his giving all his money away will end poverty. He is quite correct.

Mark does not believe that his own personal service will lead to a victory in Iraq (I am assuming this but I feel pretty safely).

For these reasons, both men have the right to hold to their respective positions without doing the "tests of sincerity" that have been offered here.

I do think, however, that the question of whether we're willing to risk our own arses for our beliefs is a VERY good one, and the person willing to go to war probably is more sincere than the one who isn't, and my friends in the Catholic Worker house who live on 60 bucks a month are more sincere than those who live in nice houses and say the poor must be helped, often from the bumpers of their Volvos.

But what such tests NEVER do is prove the validity of the argument, but rather the passion and sometimes consistency of the one making said argument. It's effectively ad hominem rather than any kind of logical approach to differing opinions.

7:16 AM  

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