Saturday, September 27, 2008

More thoughts on the McCain/Obama debate

In lastnight's debate, Obama's comment, that "the first question is whether we should have gone into the war in the first place," really tore open one of the key differences between candidates. Not on a matter of policy, but at the much more fundamental (and crucial) level of logic and problem-solving.

This was McCain's response:

The next president of the United States is not going to have to address the issue as to whether we went into Iraq or not. The next president of the United States is going to have to decide how we leave, when we leave, and what we leave behind. That's the decision of the next president of the United States.

What a genuinely oblivious thing to say. It articulates everything about what's wrong with so many military leaders like McCain: don't worry about what led up to the problem, just fix it. They're quick to tell you what the problem is, and how to solve it, but there's no interest in WHY the problem exists in the first place. Without understanding the WHY of the problem, you can't even begin to talk about a solution. It's like you drop a ball into a maze and you're trying to get the ball through to the other end, without actually looking at the maze.

So, this notion McCain has that the next President doesn't need to think about what went wrong in the first place, he just needs to fix it? Congratulations, jackass. You just demonstrated how all your experience is nullified by someone who knows how to think.

I'm so glad Obama understands this.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tonight's McCain/Obama debate

Both candidates have this misguided idea that sending more troops overseas is a valid solution to our foreign policy issues. This is one of the things about Obama that puts me on my guard, but McCain's collection of stupid ideas win my contempt by knockout. He continuously talked about "victory" in Iraq, and how he would make sure that we left "the winners." To talk about victory in this context is completely meaningless.

A relevant distinction here is the Deleuzian one between striated and smooth space (or Spinoza's distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic properties): the former refers to physical attributes that can be measured in the world; the distance from Leavenworth to St. Louis, the length of my cell phone, the number of terrorists in Iraq. The latter applies to attributes that aren't physical, and can't be measured in the same way (some would argue these qualities can't be measured); the quality of art, how much you learned in Astronomy class, terrorism itself (as a force).

Just what does McCain's vision of "victory" in Iraq look like? Killing the terrorists? If terrorism is the problem, it won't be solved by killing (or even marginalizing) terrorists. That's an attempt to eliminate an intrinsic quality by getting rid of extrinsic properties. You can't striate smooth space. Terrorists aren't the problem. The ideologies that breed terrorism are the problem. You can't get rid of an ideology simply by killing the people who adhere to it. The longer you try, the worse it's going to get. How about this, for a change: stop thinking with your adrenal glands and start thinking with your frontal cortices.

Or does victory look like a successful counterinsurgency? If the definition of an insurgent is a citizen who forcefully opposes an unjust regime or an unjust occupation, then a counterinsurgency is immoral by definition. It's imperialism on its face.

Neither of the candidates seems to realize that our current approach is wrong to begin with. Not only morally, but it fails logically.