03 August 2005

War on Squirrels

Two views from my blogroll: Eric Raymond says
The choice between "support the war" and "allow the pressure off of enemies who want to kill us all" is not a difficult one. As a libertarian, I’m deeply sorry we live in a world where governments are doing the fighting for us, and I fear the consequences of the power they will amass while doing so. But I don’t see an alternative.

While Nick Seddon says
... it is wrong to treat this as a war. Or rather, it is possible to prevent this becoming a war. Much as evangelicals (the kind who read the metaphor of the armour of God at the end of Ephesians in literal terms) and neocons (Mark Steyn’s article in The Spectator this week concludes, "If it’s a war, you can win it. Anything less is unlikely to end in victory.") are keen on their gung-ho adrenaline, it will only make things worse to react as if this is a war of simple opposites, a clash of civilisations ...

I set out to agree with Nick Seddon. But whenever I tried to form an argument of the form, "it's wrong to say this is a war, because if it was a war then ...." I had nothing to complete the sentence with. Not "nothing that supported my argument", nothing at all. To me, deciding whether the situation is or is not a war leads to no policy conclusions at all. No measure I can think of would automatically be appropriate "because we are in a war". Wars come in all shapes and sizes, even leaving aside questionable entrants like the "War on Drugs" or the "Cold War".

It's like the the old story of the squirrel, the hunter and the tree.

Now here's an odd thing. Having written the above, I thought I'd show off my erudition, or "ability to use google", by giving a better reference to the squirrel. In fact it's from William James. But check out the page that came up when I looked it up. Maybe one day I'll come up with something original.

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