Fausta's blog

Faustam fortuna adiuvat
The official blog of Fausta's Blog Talk Radio show.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The economy, Iraq,and today's items from Maria

Personal income on the rise
Personal incomes and wages each rose 0.5 percent in September from August and are increasing at 6.8 percent and 7.6 percent annual rates, respectively, according to a report Monday from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Meanwhile, a sharp drop in gasoline prices helped to slightly raise consumer spending, another important component of the economy. U.S. consumer spending rose by 0.1 percent in September over August, less than expected, for a 5.5 percent annual increase.
Via Stephen Pollard, Understand Chelsea versus Sheffield, and you will see the Iraq game plan (no, Chelsea is not Chelsea Clinton, but Chelsea and Sheffield are English soccer - which they call football - teams. Please bear with me)
This football stuff, of course, is only an analogy. Questions of war and peace are deadly serious and there is more at stake than a fiver and mild foolishness. The principle, however, holds.

The outcome of any political decision is uncertain. You use your best estimate of the probabilities of different results and make a choice. Even if you have calculated the probabilities correctly and made a sensible choice, the outcome might still be a poor one. Only an analysis of the results of repeated decisions can provide a proper insight into whether your choice was a good one.

This may seem obvious but, in fact, we rarely look at decisions in this way. Let me use Vietnam as an example. Forests have been cut down printing books about why the decision to prosecute the Vietnam War was wrong. But what if it wasn’t? No one can doubt that the war was a disastrous episode, that it ended badly. But you can’t judge the decision by this one outcome alone.

What if, instead of viewing the Vietnam War as a single episode, you view the decision as one of a long series? America decided to confront Soviet influence aggressively wherever it reared its head. Mostly this strategy was successful but, naturally, sometimes individual decisions produced a calamitous outcome. Luck plays a role as well as error. The Cuban missile crisis is viewed as a great triumph. It is separated by the thinnest margin from being the worst event in the history of mankind.

Apply this to the Iraq war. The critics believe that Mr Blair should have defied the request from our closest ally and chosen to stand aside and do nothing about Saddam.

They reach this point with two sleights of hand that make the decision to go to war seem impossibly stupid. The first is to criticise the known outcome of the course taken without reference to the unknown outcome of the course not taken. Not prosecuting the war would have meant leaving Saddam in power, followed in due course by his mad, murderous sons. If you ignore the possible result of allowing this then, of course, the war becomes difficult to explain.

The second thing the critics do is to consider the Iraq war as an isolated decision, rather than one in a long series. It can’t be looked at like that.

Even if you consider the history of policy towards Saddam alone, the decision to remove him is simply one among many. But the Iraq invasion also has to be seen as one decision among many in the War on Terror, in the recent history of liberal interventionism and in the long course of the special relationship.

On the whole, I believe that robust partnership with the United States, and a strong military approach to dangerous, aggressive dictators with nuclear ambitions is a better foreign policy than the alternatives. And on the whole, I think that believing intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction is a more sensible thing to do than ignoring them.
You can be stuck in Iraq, or you can be stuck on stupid: I apologize to no one

Today's articles from Maria
Kill Muqtada now

U.S. voting-machine shocker: Does Hugo Chavez own 'em? Feds probe money trail behind company for ties to Castroite Venezuelan president My opinion is that's highly unlikely.
UPDATE Western Hemisphere Policy Watch is on top of the story, which has much more to it than I thought. WHPW reaquests that you email any information you may have on Smartmatic Corporation and its work in Venezuela at whpwhpw@hotmail.com.

The roots of Jihad

No kidding - they're twins


Thomas Hoving probably chuckled when he read this headline: Getty Adopts New Antiquities Standard

The vegemite scandal rolls on; now Snopes pipes in. Excuse me while I go have some vegemite on toast.

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