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Reasonable wars

In our most recent entry we explored the idea of Israel attacking an Iranian nuclear power plant. We’ve been following up on the issue, reading articles and letters to the editors, among other sources. And throughout our observations, we’ve noticed that in the area of foreign policy, and specifically the war on terror, logical fallacies abound.

Most of us are familiar with logical fallacies. The concept is rooted in correlation and causation, misusing syllogisms, a Greek word meaning conclusion that also describes a method of argumentation developed by Aristotle. In other words, a logical fallacy is drawing illogical conclusions based on an incorrect correlation of facts.

The types of fallacies are copious; one is the Aristotelian “Fallacy of Accident,” which is used today to make the following deduction:

All Arabs are Muslim. Recent terrorism acts have been committed by Muslims. Therefore, all Arabs are terrorists.

From the other side of the spectrum, we have the following fallacy of logic, one we’re hearing more and more of. This conclusion can be attributed to the “Appeal to Fear.” It goes as follows:

The western world fears nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We attacked Iraq because we believed that Saddam Hussein and the Baathist regime had WMD. Such weapons have not been discovered in Iraq, therefore, we should not assume that Iran is aiming to build nuclear weapons.

Though these two example in some ways reflect opposite viewpoints, the methodology is similar and, in both cases, similarly dangerous. This kind of simplistic – and incorrect – deduction does not allow the administration or military personnel the scope in which to analyze what’s happened and develop future strategy. This kind of reasoning does not allow for nuance, for detail, for in-depth knowledge.

One could argue that it is due to a deduction of this kind that we are in the quagmire of Iraq. We fought the First Gulf War, which took place in the Middle East. Weapons inspections followed. We are now fighting a war on terror against Islamic fundamentalists. Therefore, we must oust Saddam Hussein, who we believe is building an arsenal of deadly weapons. This is the “Post Hoc” fallacy, drawing a correlation between something that took place prior – the First Gulf War – and something that followed – the war on terror. Where was the insight into divisions within Iraq, sects within Islam? Where was the knowledge about WMD, about what ties these alleged WMD could potentially have to terrorist cells? Where, in fact, was the evidence linking Saddam to Islamic fundamentalism?

With the specter of Iran’s uranium enriching program looming, let’s hope that this time around, those in Washington are employing a more thorough analysis in forming their policies toward the Middle East.

3 thoughts on “Reasonable wars

  1. ma nishtana

    Again, important points to ponder Rocky mountain Jew! The foreign policy definitely needs to be explored in a more sophisticated way. The appropriate way to go about it would be by trying to understand the Iraqi or Irani mantality from the inside. Formulating policy from our perspective alone is, indeed, deadly. However, when it comes to evil, there is something to seeing it in shades of black and white. Evil is wrong. Evil is bad. No ifs ands or buts. Initially, Bush’s strength was his simplistic was of looking at the world, in black and white, good and evil. Because when it comes to evil we cannot view it from the vantage point of nuiances and shades of gray!
    Thank you Rocky mountain Jew for raising this sensitive, timely, and stimulating discussion topic!

  2. irish pub

    I agree with ma nishtana. People say “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter”. Tfu! Terrorism is black on white evil. There is never an excuse to go about fighting for freedom by cruelly targeting civilians. Often times, the terrorist acts to Jewish civilians is accompanied by an extra measure of barbaric satanism. For example, after murdering the boys in tekoa (koby mandell and friend) seven years ago, the terrorist brutally stoned the children to death. This was his cruel and creepy kind of “pleasure”. Recently, the example of Samir Kuntar, the master terrorist released in exchange for the two dead “prisoners”, Regev and Goldwasser, also brutally smashed a young girl’s head against a rock with the butt of his rifle.

    This has led me to thinking about an important question. With the evidence to these terrorists evil ways, do you think it is possible for a terrorist to change?

    I believe a terrorist who committed such an evil act should not be given the opportunity to change. He should be put away for life in solitary confinement. However, many of the current Palestinian leadership that Israel negotiates with are former terrorists (and I believe current one’s as well–they are simply bears in prince’s clothing). What do you think? Do you think these Arabs have changed? Do you think it is possible to change such heinous people? At what point does one accept that these Palestinian gov officials are, in fact, architects of terror as well? Is the transformation or rehabilitation of terrorist evil possible?

  3. T Schwarz

    But almost every national movement has a “terrorist” element to it. Even the Israeli independence movement had a terrorist group, Irgun, who bombed the King David Hotel. Before a nation has a state and therefore an official army it organizes a militia that is obviously illegal as it agitates against the existing power.


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