Thursday, March 09, 2006

My View

The other day I made some comments about some college students parroting what is reported in the media instead of thinking critically and making decision for themselves. This of course triggered some spirited comments, and one in particular that I need to address and expand my position on. In particular, I used the example of students asking "isn’t it true that there were no WMDs in Iraq and that Bush lied just to get us in the war?" The point I want to make about this particular statement and how it applies to critical thinking is that the absence of WMDs is only part of the story.

To get to the crux of the argument is that Bush lied about WMDs to get us into the war in Iraq. Forget about the reasons why he supposedly wanted to get into the war, I want to focus on the argument that he lied about WMDs to get us there.

To understand this, you need to know a little bit about the intelligence available at the time, and how it’s interpreted. We had lots of intel, in fact, we ALWAYS have lots of intel. So much in fact that on average, the amount of intel gathered on a daily basis, is so large that it would one person 18 years to go through it, analyze it, interpret it and make a recommendation. Eighteen years; that’s 37,440 man-hours (40 hrs a week x 52 weeks x 18 years). Granted, we don’t have a single person doing this, but you can figure that even if you had a team of 100 people, it would take 47 days to process ONE days worth of intel, and intel gathering continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s a wonder we’re able to do as well as we do.

Add to the equation that intel analysis is not an exact science. Recommendations are basically guesses on the part of the analyst. Guesses made by experts in their fields, based on past experience, political climate, and a myriad of other factors, but it boils down to and educated guess. In the military community, we jokingly refer to it as a SWAG or Scientific Wild A$$ Guess.

So, there is a good chance the intel was flawed. However, there’s a reasonable chance it was correct and the WMDs did exist and were either hidden or moved. I tend to think that these explanations are more plausible than they didn’t exist at all. I can hear you now; "but we haven’t found any, so how could they have been over looked for so long, they couldn’t have existed. Well, the best way to explain this is with an example.

Not long ago, there was a horrible murder out where I live where a pregnant woman was killed by her husband while she slept. He disposed of the bodies in a dumpster. He confessed to the crime within days and the police conducted a full out search of the landfill that dumpster load was taken to. It took over two and a half months to find her body. My point is this; the police KNEW where she was and it took over two months to find her in an area less than 10 square miles. Iraq is about 7,000 square miles larger than California with the majority of it being vast expanses of open, desolate desert. We have found complete military aircraft buried in the desert, to hide them from inspectors. Whole, complete military aircraft. Keep in mind that Iraq gathered intel as well and probably had a good idea of when we were getting ready to go in. They had plenty of time to hide or move their WMDs before OIF kicked off.

There are those who also say that since there were no WMDs (found), then we need to get out of Iraq. Again, I’ll use an example of why we shouldn’t cut and run since the WMDs were not found. Imagine the police get a tip that a house is being used to manufacture and sell drugs. They get a warrant based on probable cause and raid the home. Turns out, there are no drugs, no paraphernalia, no evidence at all of drug activity. Their intel was flawed. But what if they find evidence of a homicide, or find a kidnap victim tied up in the basement? Should they pack up and leave? What if they find evidence of a serial killer or child molester? What should they do?
So, back to my original point; why is parroting the stance of no WMDs being ill-informed? Technically yes, there were no WMDs found so far. They may not have even existed, but that doesn’t mean the President lied. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be in Iraq. Was the intel flawed? Possibly or probably depending on how you look at it. Were mistakes made? Absolutely. Do we cut and run because of them? In my opinion, no; I think it’s better to learn from them and make corrections, and continue to do what is necessary.

My original comments were based on a conversation about how some of the college students I’ve talked to in class don’t take the time to hear the other side, or sometimes a third or forth side of a story. They don’t make the effort to get the details, weigh them, and form their own opinion. This applies to those on both sides of an issue. What I try to instill is these young people is to look at things from all angles, get as much information from different sources (not just the ones that support their particular view) and base a position on complete information. If they do that, they’re opinions have weight. To blindly follow a party line or support a candidate because of dislike for another, is not only irresponsible, it’s dangerous. To base your position on well informed thought is how our system is designed to work.

I know there are plenty out there that will still disagree with me, and that’s fine. I enjoy disagreement. I like to hear well thought out arguments contrary to my views. It makes me better informed. I have even changed my views on some issues because of it. Like I said in my profile, I can’t stand blind allegiance to either side; but I respect the hell out of firm allegiance based on personal thought. I might not agree, but if your argument is based on complete information, I’ll lay down my life defending your right to your beliefs.


Cowgirl said...

Great post. You already know what I think.
It's not everyday that I make a cowboy blush.
Wasn't this fun?

Rude1 said...

lol, it was a BLAST!! You're up late :)

Day by Day said...

This was a very well written post...

My only point that I wanted to make in your comments was just that "how one is raised" to think for ones self.

As for this adiministration... I gave up on them a long time ago.

My whole thing is... I base my opinion on what I hear from the my military friends. They are there... they see what's going on... they know. NONE of us know exactly what is going on and the media fills us all with the bad and not the good. Yes, I for the longest time was very closed minded... I hate BUSH, person. Still don't like him... but... oh, I could go on and on and on! ;)

Great Post


Cowgirl said...

I kinda touched on this subject today. Kinda.

EsotericWombat said...

It's true. There is a lot of intel. But it only takes one blatant lie mixed in with the rest to discredit the whole lot of it. Those "mobile biological weapons labs" that Colin Powell referred to? Hydrogen gas generators. Manufactured in the UK. Used to fill weather baloons.

Hell, we know that Saddam had WMDs at some point. We gave them to him. Personally I think he destroyed them covertly so that UN weapons inspectors wouldn't find them, but let people think he had them so that he'd be feared. I mean, it's not like he had anything to gain by using them.

And the fact that Haliburton charges the Army 12 bucks to clean a shirt and a pair of socks (this coming straight from a friend of mine who was there for a year and for this reason did his own laundry) certainly shows motive.

Cowgirl said...

Haven't heard from you in a while Rude1... you doing ok?

Rude1 said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone, I wish I had time to comment more. Im still around, just very busy!

EW, glad you stopped by, I respect your right to belive what you want, but respectfully disagree. When I was there, I never had to pay HB for laundry. Neither did my wife or anyone else I know.

I can see we're going to have to agree to disagree. I've seen some stuff there you wouldn't believe no matter how hard I try. I stand with the faith that what we're doing there is a good thing. I respect your opposing view; just don't agree with it.

EsotericWombat said...

I never said the soldiers had to pay HB. I'm saying that the US government did, on a per-item basis (not quite sure how what I said could have been interpreted otherwise). And my friend's outfit, knowing this, did their own laundry because they didn't want Cheney to profit from their being there.

Rude1 said...

I'm still trying to figure out how the VP is profiting from HBs business... He no longer works for them, no longer holds any stock, no longer has any connection what so ever except he once worked for them.

I don't get paid when I go to McDonalds since I no longer work for them and have no stock...

I just don't see the connection

EsotericWombat said...

Cheney may be off the books at HB, but I refuse to believe that he doesn't have holdings there in other people's names. And even if he doesn't, those are his cronies profiting off of the war. Profiting egregiously. The poor get shot at in the desert while the rich line their pockets. Something's up here.

I've said it once, and I fear I'll have to say it far more. When there is profit to be made from war, we can never be assured of a just motive. The only way to be sure that our brave men and women aren't put in harms way for an injust cause is to keep the profit from war.

Rude1 said...

I appreciate your view, but disagree. There have been investigations about his holdings and have come up with nothing. Without proof, I lean to give the benefit of the doubt. The is no one, no where, who can hold high public office without having friends or cronies they've made over their lifetime. So then, who do we get to run the country?

Is HB making a profit from being over there? You bet. They're in business to make a profit. Is that wrong? No, as long as they aren't gouging or profiteering. Your example of 12 bucks to clean a shirt and socks, isn't wuite accurate. I believe it's 12 bucks a load of laundry, no matter if its one shirt or several. Is 12 bucks high? Well, not if you consider the cost involved to supply, transport, maintain, operate, replace and yes, make a profit. All those costs are factored into the price charged for the service provided.

I've seen business after busness fold because the people running it didn't know how to factor in these costs. You can make it for a short time by charging less, but unless you have factored these costs into your plan, eventually maintenance costs, replacement costs, and a myriad of other hidden costs will put you in the red very quickly.

It's no different than the mechanic at the local car dealership. DO you think he gets the $75 an hour they charge? No, if he's lucky, he gets $15-20. The rest of the costs are for operations and overhead.

I don't want to sound patronizing or belittling, but unless you're a lot more experienced than other 19 year olds, there are a LOT of things about business that you probably don't understand. Not because you're ignorant, but because you probably haven't been exposed to it. I could be wrong, you may have your own successful business I don't know.

The poor, the rich, and those in between are getting wounded and killed. That is a fact. The demographics clearly state that the differences are not far off from the rest of society. The military doesn't target the poor to get them sent to war to die. They recruit the best qualified people regardless of their background.

I hate to say it, but there will ALWAYS be profit made in war; it's a sad fact. All we can do is keep a close eye and make sure price gouging and profiteering are kept in check.

EW< it's good to chat with you, I enjoy reading your thoughts. Please understand that from my life experience, I have a completely different view than yours. As always, your welcome to post here! Cheers my friend