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October 16, 2005

George Packer Is The World's Greatest Logician

George Packer, author of The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq, has these important words for us:

Iraq was a war of choice, in the sense that we went off to fight even though we had not been physically attacked, which raised the threshold for the American public's and the world's support. But this didn't make the war immoral by definition; other than World War II, every American war has arguably been a war of choice.

Let's follow the reasoning here, because I feel some of you malcontents could benefit from seeing truly rigorous thinking in action:

1. It is impossible for most of America's wars to have been immoral. That's obvious.
2. America has fought lots of wars where we haven't been attacked.


3. America attacking Iraq without having been attacked is not, by definition, immoral.

The alternative here would be to believe that America is like any other country; that when a country attacks another without being attacked it is almost always immoral; and that therefore, because America has fought a lot of wars in which we weren't attacked, we've fought a lot of immoral wars.

Fortunately, we have intellectuals like George Packer to help us understand that that's just illogical.

Posted at October 16, 2005 03:03 PM | TrackBack

He indentified a market niche, Jon. There was a need for pro-war, neoliberal intellectuals and he acted courageously. That's bold resolve, if you ask me. Audacious and bodacious, too. There's nothing like lecturing almost everyone who reads the mags that publish his articles on their need to get right with hegemony. You may not see his logic there, or in his support for immoral wars, but it exists. Just as surely as intelligent design explains evolution.

Posted by: Harry at October 16, 2005 06:59 PM

Reminds me of interviews Packer has done with Al Franken on Air America, and points to the serious failings of Franken, Packer, and others who accept an infallible American nobility, while declaring that we must keep the troops in Iraq so that we do not ``cut and run.''

Posted by: Eric at October 16, 2005 07:27 PM

That was risible.

I'd almost rather they all just kept their head stuck in their ass than look around at the hellhole they created and say "Well, see, we were right, shit happened, and yeah, we have managed to make hell on earth but it was still the right decision unlike you hippy, slacker filth who loved Saddam and Islamofascism.".

Posted by: Ed Marshall at October 16, 2005 08:18 PM

Have you seen the Guardian's list of the world's top intellectuals? It is enough to give me a headache, as most of them are on a par with this guy. (Chomsky, however, is on there. They would have had trouble leaving him off, I suppose.) Perhaps it is pollution, but I think intellectuals seem to be getting stupider and stupider (yes I know that is not a word).

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at October 17, 2005 01:45 AM

Though putting forth "the United Nations against democratic idealism" as one of the dichotomies of the pre-Iraq war period is certainly priceless, I'd say the best part of Packard's mental chunkbloviation was this:

In the winter of 2003, what you thought about the war mattered less to me than how you thought about it. [...] In those tense months, the mark of second-rate minds was absolute certainty one way or the other.

Note the logic here:

1) In the winter of 2003, I, George Packer, was uncertain about the Iraq war.

2) It must be obvious even to the multitude of swine examining my glimmering pearls that I, George Packer, have a first-rate mind.

3) Therefore, anyone who was certain about the Iraq war in the winter of 2003 clearly has nothing more than a second-rate mind.

It'd be easy to have a laugh at the expense of our patient instructor George here. Ha ha ha, that George, what a maroon. Will he and those like him never learn?

Unfortunately, though, this same form of reasoning is endemic to much of the liberal left. Just one example: "in the fall of 2004, I saw no other choice than to swallow my principles and vote for John Kerry; I'm a reasonable person; therefore, only unreasonable people were unwilling to accept the absolute necessity to vote for John Kerry in 2004." Yes, that's familiar territory, but truly, it's just one of many examples I could have chosen. In fact, defining your own position as the rational, reasonable one seems to me to be practically the favorite pastime of many liberals.

Posted by: at October 17, 2005 03:50 AM

Well, at least that last commenter had enough sense to go anonymous.

...unreasonable bastard.

Posted by: Sully at October 17, 2005 07:12 AM

You're the unreasonable one, Sully, you evildoer. I know you're in league with both Packer and the Rotarians!


Feel free to prove me wrong . . . if you can.

Posted by: Harry at October 17, 2005 09:56 AM

My anonymity up there was actually an unintended result of filling out the comment form twice, but the identifying info only once (*sigh*). I'm happy to take both the credit and the blame.

Posted by: John Caruso at October 17, 2005 12:04 PM

You really have a talent for morally denouncing war, I don't know how to put it but it's exactly what I want to hear. Most people don't write about it at all or sound bleeding-hearted.

Posted by: Noumenon at October 17, 2005 03:06 PM

Vee vill deal vith you, Harry. In zese terrible accents, too.

Posted by: Sully at October 18, 2005 08:55 AM

I checked that list of 100 intellectuals, and I'm not on it. I'm bummed. And it is too a word.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 19, 2005 05:07 AM