Daniel Larison illustrates the folly of old, demented David Broder's idea that President Obama should start a war with Iran to get re-elected.
Personally, I think war with Iran is a pretty stupid idea. Launching an attack on Iran for developing a nuclear weapon would lack even the most basic moral authority, so long as we build the damn things ourselves. We don't even have the troops or the money to pull something like that off, along with about a thousand other reasons that Larison goes over thoroughly. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to vote for Obama in 2012 if he did something like that, which I doubt he would. But Broder's argument transcends to true idiocy because of this notion that wars end bad economic circumstances, based solely on one data point. We are, of course, currently fighting two wars which does not include the broader "war on terror" efforts. And yet our economy is experiencing mediocre growth. Broder's historical grasp here merely proves the old adage about how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and shows once again the wrong way to deploy history in a political argument. There are many things we can learn from historical events, and these things are cyclical to a certain extent, but no two situations are ever the same and it's extremely easy to make a superficially compelling historical parallel that really only draws on a couple of similarities between events. But the differences are usually critical. My general rule of thumb is that anyone who uses a historical parallel as an actual point and not an explanation aide or some such is a fraud who should be ignored, since history, while useful in understanding why things are the way they are, is not an exact science (or really even a science in my estimation) and you can find an example somewhere in history to back up any particular point of view.
The Man, The Myth, The Bio
- East Bay, California, United States
- Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.