Battlepanda: Cynicism or Delusion?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Cynicism or Delusion?

Paul Krugman asks the question of the day (via Mark Thoma):
The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional.
Opinions differ:

Senator Joseph Biden ... thinks they’re cynical. He recently told The Washington Post that administration officials are simply running out the clock, so that the next president will be “the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof.”

Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize ... for his research on irrationality in decision-making, thinks they’re delusional. Mr. Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon recently argued in Foreign Policy magazine that the administration’s unwillingness to face reality in Iraq reflects a basic human aversion to cutting one’s losses — the same instinct that makes gamblers stay at the table, hoping to break even.

I'm sure it's a mixture of the two. Warmongering pundits like William Kristol are surely delusional. And surely there are some in the administration who are merely cynical, perhaps including the President himself.

The danger is that the newly elected Democratic Congress falls prey to a different form of cynicism: they've already won one election because of an unpopular war, and it's got to be very tempting to put up only token resistance to the President's crazy scheme, let him have the "surge" he claims to want, and coast to another victory in 2008 when the plan inevitably fails. It's especially tempting since the most dangerous Republican presidential candidate in 2008, Senator McCain, is a surge proponent.

Is McCain delusional? Or is he a different sort of cynic, hoping that the Democrats refuse to go along with the President's scheme, so that he can run on the Dolchstosslegende?

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