Political Weblogging

The debate falters, lying broken in the dust

Yesterday I accepted the challenge issued by the so-called warbloggers to engage in an ongoing debate about war in Iraq; to put forth arguments without recourse to personal attacks. I believe that I accomplished this, writing up both legal and strategic reasons against war in Iraq and not once engaging in character assassination.

My regular readers are probably wondering why I bother, as these debates rarely go anywhere. (Especially since I’m under such a tight book deadline. Yeah, yeah, and ThreadNeedle is overdue, too.)

Past experience has shown that when those in my virtual neighborhood engage in said debates, we’re usually ignored by the warbloggers, or personally impugned. Rarely are our arguments directly referenced, with the point by point rebuttal or dispassionate cross-examination that marks good debating technique. Why tilt at the warblogger windmills?

What can I say, my lance was dull and needed sharpening, and my horse is fat and needs exercise.

Joking aside, debate is a remarkably effective method of finding which of our arguments are sound, and which are so full of holes they’d sink if floated on water. And there are many decisions being made in the US (and most likely other countries) based on some very leaky arguments. Good debate is a quality assurance process.

Since the first rule of debate is to define the subject, from this point on for this particular debate I’m going to label the sides pro-invasion for those in favor of invasion of Iraq; and anti-invasion for those against. The whole warblogger, anti-warblogger, peaceblogger labeling is getting tiring–time to start addressing specific issues rather than dump each other into dismissive categories.

On to the debate:

Eric did respond to Alan’s posting on the analogy of post-war Japan and humiliation, though as you’ll read from my comments, I felt that he didn’t adress Allan’s writing specifically. He also didn’t address Jonathon’s excellent posting, though has said he is writing more on this issue later. As for my own posting, he responded here and here. However, he also wrote:

Burningbird senses a weariness on my part to engage in a point by point debate. This is so because I sense we have no common ground whatsoever. That is why I have presented detailed overviews on the various issues: they indicate where I am coming from.

Eric, if we agreed, there’d be nothing to debate.

Den Beste wrote:


I favored the war in Afghanistan. I favor war in Iraq. I hate the prospect, but I consider all the alternatives to be even worse, and I believe that the longer we wait, the worse the cost of the war (to us) will be, and since I consider such a war unavoidable then the sooner the better. But entering a war is a major political decision and it unquestionably should happen only with emergence of public consensus, based on reasoned understanding of the issues by the public, which I believe can best be fostered by public debate. After Pearl Harbor, no such public debate was needed to create a consensus for war against Japan, but since I’m advocating a preemptive attack against another nation instead of a direct response to a direct attack by that nation, then we have the luxury of time for a debate, and an obligation to engage in one.


And I have been trying, off and on, to engage those who strongly disagree with me in such debate for months now, largely fruitlessly. Perhaps I chose the wrong forum to issue my challenge, given that those on the other side of the political fence who participated there at the time also tended to subscribe to a whole mishmash of post-modern multicultural dogma, to the extent that we couldn’t even come to an agreement about the fundamentals of epistemology, let along tackle the actual political issues. At the time I dismissed those epistemological concepts as “Berkeley Rules”, and in reaction I was myself dismissed as a bully and an insensitive boor who didn’t understand what a social gaffe it was for me to actually tell someone that they were wrong about something and to try to prove it to them and everyone else.

While Den Beste is a pro-invasion and I’m anti-invasion, I do agree with him about the importance of debate of this issue.

I haven’t seen any polls in regards to invading Iraq, but if any has been conducted, I wouldn’t be surprised that at least 50% of the people in my country believe we should invade Iraq. Their reasons vary, but chances are they’re reflected in what we read within the weblogs. Time to start talking. Time to start the debate.

Update: Eric did respond to Jonathon’s post with an extensive post of his own. However, me thinks the debate on the Iraq invasion between us has run its course.

Probably for the best.



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