The Dialogue We Should Have (and Should’ve Had)

I want to commend to your attention what I think is a fairly civil reasonable exchange of posts from QandO and Oliver Willis.

In the opening post Dale Franks asks Oliver Willis (and “people like Oliver Willis”) to flesh out their plans for Iraq now. Not to rehash old grievances—a day forward plan.

And Oliver responds. In a reasonable, thoughtful way.

I commend both posts to your attention.

This is just exactly the sort of dialogue that we should have had five years ago and the sort that should have been engaged in by the U. S. Senate. When did the Senate stop being the world’s greatest deliberative body and start being an engine for re-electing the same old millionaires year after year?

7 comments… add one
  • Was the Senate ever truly the world’s greatest deliberative body? That tag always seems to have had more than a whiff of sarcasm to me, but that just might be because of my age.

  • Franks’ questions are tendentiously slanted enough to make it hard to credit his inquiry with good faith. In many ways it’s an exercise in disguising the old warhawk gambits – “Don’t you care about Iraqis???? Enough to keep bombing them????” “Some lefties want a war somewhere else!” “YOU have to accrue consequences if you’re wrong, but I don’t.” This doesn’t surprise me given the source.

  • Probably just my perspective, but I think you and Michael are a bit too kind to Oliver on this one. Based on the write-ups, I was looking forward to reading something from that side of the argument that was considerate of issues and principles and what’s best for real people and real nations, not for political positions. I was looking forward to what could be written on that side when the snark is left out. I didn’t get it.

    Oliver tells you right at the top he’s not taking this seriously (“… regurgitate existing talking points”).

    I didn’t think Dale’s questions were ” tendentiously slanted” at all. That is, I think any sort of dialogue in politics has got to be tendentious — otherwise, why have it? Each side has asked itself its own pet questions over and over and answered them. Each has ignored the other’s. Here’s a chance to find out if there is an answer.

    To those who are gung-ho for withdrawal from Iraq, the question, “What do you think will happen there next” is pertinent. As is “are you cool with that, and does that result square with your principles?” Comparisons with Kosovo and Darfur also are relevant, if you’re going to think about the role of American power in humanitarian crises in a generic, as opposed to situation-specific way, which is the only way to get toward a policy for it.

    There’s some leading of the witness toward a statement “Iraqis (or Arabs or Muslims) are incapable of democracy,” but any lefty worth his salt could persuasively counter that, by separating, say, “the Iraqi people” from “the post-colonial nation of Iraq.” Oliver conspicuously fails to do so.

    The last set of questions from Dale does tend toward making assumptions about history and conflating domestic politics with foreign policy to a degree the record might not warrant.

    Still, it’s useful to read Oliver for what he doesn’t say. There are no Kurds in his Iraq. And we are to both leave the place to itself and stop dying there, on one hand, and fight al Qaida there on the other.

    And the notion, seemingly unshakable on the anti-war side, that having been against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by predicting all sorts of dire things that mostly never happened makes you “right” because all sorts of bad things you didn’t predict DID happen, entitles you to the respect and credence of the rest of us.

  • I’ve been taken to task already (by Oliver Willis, Jim Henley, and others) for welcoming even the fairly low of civility and forthcomingness seen in this conversation. I guess I think that even the feeblest, reasonably civil exchange of ideas is better than the feces-flinging that has dominated blogospheric discourse for a while.

    I thought that Oliver’s responses were, as I said, quite forthcoming: he doesn’t much care what happens in Iraq or the Middle East, he’s mostly interested in domestic politics, and (suprisingly to me, at least) he favors invading Pakistan in hot pursuit of al-Qaeda.

    I’ve never thought that was on and I honestly can’t imagine any national-type Democratic politician proposing such a thing.

  • I know I’m probably coming too late to this party to get any dessert, but I figured I’d mention that my answers to the questions are here.

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