Michael O’Hanlon was paraded out to the media networks yesterday as a previous war critic, but after having come back from Iraq and having been compelled by the evidence he saw with his very own eyes, he came back with an optimistic outlook on the President’s “surge” plan. As he titled his and Kenneth Pollack’s OpEd for the New York Times, this is “A War We Just Might Win.”
But, as Glenn Greenwald points out, the amount of information needed to convince Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon about the effectiveness of the “surge” is not as insurmountably high as one might be lead to believe. It is with no surprise that I find that often to be the case with any skeptic story with a conclusion I find somewhat implausible.
So, let’s call Michael O’Hanlon what he is: an Iraq War apologist, not a skeptic. A skeptic would be someone like Jon Stewart. Someone who had a moment pause at the Iraqi elections only to see the situation further disintegrate.
Although, it is my view that apologists speak more to the believers than the skeptics. Partly because they offer the believers a false sense of what the other side of the argument really is. It usually has many of the trimmings of a reasonable argument, but as I pointed out in ““Conservative” Argument Properties,” the argument usually isn’t that the conclusions best fit the evidence, it is that one cannot prove the conclusions invalid based on available evidence.
However, taking an apologist route leaves one more open for attack, because prima-facie the argument is supposed to be reasonable. Thus leading to this exchange on “Hardball.” It shouldn’t be much of a surprise Mr. O’Hanlon pulls out the let’s agree to disagree pretty early on, with his statement that others might reach different conclusions. Or that too much of his time is spent lamenting the fact that his piece was called propaganda. He kept arguing that he wanted to debate the policy on the merits, which Brian Katulis finally manages to do near the end, pointing out if the point of “surge” strategy is to fortify a stable Iraqi government, then it is a failure, since it is fortifying factions opposed to a strong Iraqi government for a temporary improvement in the security situation. Yes, some metrics are improving, but the overall strategic situation isn’t. Mr. O’Hanlon ultimately calls the current strategy a gamble, and challenges Mr. Katulis for an alternative workable strategy. Katulis points to the timetable exit strategy which O’Hanlon can only shake his head as MSNBC cuts to commercial.
As for other strategic blunders in the works, the U.S. is set to offer Saudi Arabia a huge arms deal. I don’t know what is more infuriating, the fact that the U.S. is giving Saudi Arabia, a nation where 15 of 19 known 9/11 hijackers are from, a country with ties to Osama Bin Laden, with a government that is brutal, corrupt and generally hated by the populace, or the fact that the U.S. plans on giving $30.4 billion to Israel to allay their concerns over the deal. But, honestly, the arms deal is expected to total $20 billion. So, the U.S. is going more than $10.4 billion in the hole to sell weapons to country that is corrupt, hated and harbors terrorists, and numerous direct connections to 9/11?