June 7, 2005


Best explanation yet that I have found as to why people are not outraged over Iraq from Ed Kilgore in the great new TPM Cafe:

Once Bush became Maximum Leader in the War on Terror, all these divisions largely ended, and few Republicans dissented from the hypothesis that U.S. national security depended on a hyper-interventionist and highly ideological approach to transforming the Middle East. So Bush has rarely had to watch his back among Republicans.

The second factor is simultaneously obvious and often ignored. It is best described by the following (faulty) syllogism:

Some Arabs came over here and killed a lot of Americans. Bush went over there and killed a lot more Arabs. Since then, no Arabs have come over here and killed Americans. Thus, Bush's invasion of Iraq is responsible for our safety since 9/11.

I don't know about you, but in conversations with non-political people during the 2004 campaign, I heard some version of this "Bush must be doing something right" argument repeated over and over again. And in my experience, telling people they are falling prey to the post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logical fallacy is not a terribly effective rebuttal.

The lack of a another terrorist attack on US soil is always the last resort of conservative argument and up till now it seems like a winner. No matter how badly Iraq has gone, "At least there have been no more 9/11's." That ideas eems to be fading:

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the number of casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, while two-thirds say the U.S. military there is bogged down and nearly six in 10 say the war was not worth fighting -- in all three cases matching or exceeding the highest levels of pessimism yet recorded. More than four in 10 believe the U.S. presence in Iraq is becoming analogous to the experience in Vietnam.

Perhaps most ominous for President Bush, 52 percent said war in Iraq has not contributed to the long-term security of the United States, while 47 percent said it has. It was the first time a majority of Americans disagreed with the central notion Bush has offered to build support for war: that the fight there will make Americans safer from terrorists at home. In late 2003, 62 percent thought the Iraq war aided U.S. security, and three months ago 52 percent thought so.

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