Thursday, July 31, 2008

What's Important 35

McCain collageThirty-fifth in a series.

This is from CBC and q-pheever (at A Roguish Chrestomathy) who has, I think, hit the nail squarely on the proverbial head:

As discussed in a recent post on Language Log, John McCain has an interesting tendency to say "Iraq" when one might expect to hear "Afghanistan." In the most notorious example, he referred to "the Iraq-Pakistan border"; this led to some speculation about whether he really thought there was such a border (the least charitable hypothesis), or whether it was just a slip of the tongue (Mark Liberman's charitable interpretation), or whether "the Iraq-Pakistan border" is the new way to say "Iran" (my suggestion).

From what I heard on CBC Radio last night, though, I'm now inclined to think that McCain really does think that Afghanistan and Iraq are the same place. The CBC played a clip in which McCain made an ‘argument’ that can be paraphrased as follows:

  1. Barack Obama says that the U.S. should send more troops to Afghanistan.
  2. Sending more troops constitutes a surge.
  3. But Barack Obama said that the surge in Iraq was a bad idea.
  4. Therefore, Barack Obama is being inconsistent. Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah!

McCain's reasoning is sound if and only if "Iraq" and "Afghanistan" refer to the same place, or perhaps if there is One Correct Strategy that applies to all conflicts everywhere. If John McCain believes either one of those things, it would be extremely foolish and dangerous to put him in charge of deciding where to deploy U.S. military forces.

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At 4:51 PM, July 31, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...


I really like this series of yours; it's been very enlightening, and in many cases alarming, to see what John McCain is really all about.


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