Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Logic only a journalist could love


The Patriot-News, our local fishwrap, is endlessly fascinating. Their editorial pages are exemplars of the anti-business model so beloved by self-regarding guild members. (See examples here, here, here, and here.)

Lately, they are less likely to argue with their conservative readers; they prefer to troll them.

Case in point: this defense of Marie Harf and her “don’t kill the terrorists hire them” brain fart.

As Marie Harf controversy shows, it's nuance, not truth, that's the first casualty:
See, Marie Harf did not say something stupid, nor did she ad lib an inartful answer to a tough question, nor did she articulate a seriously flawed policy.

No. Marie Harf is a victim. Her subtle geopolitical insights were misunderstood and misinterpreted by sexist, agist, stupid right-wingers.

Now, she's the "terrorists need jobs lady." And, at age 33, she's been patronizingly dismissed (with no small amount of sexism underpinning the criticism) as too young and inexperienced to hold the job she now holds. It's a firm bet that no similar accusation would have been hurled if Harf's first name were Michael instead of Marie.
I guess John L. Micek never heard of Tommy Vietor or Ben Rhodes.

Micek also defended Harf by appealing to the wisdom of the greatest American statesman of the twentieth century.

But any military response must still be accompanied by a political one. After military victory in World War II, it was the Marshall plan that secured seven decades of peace among the warring parties.
This struck me as a poor analogy for a lot of reason. So, I tweeted one to Micek:

Re Harf: We did not start debating the Marshall Plan until we had defeated the Nazis.
Micek then proceeded to “destroy” me like his intellectual heroes Jon Stewart and Vox do to pesky stupid conservatives:

Doesn't mean we have to wait in this case
I was devastated. His tweet laid bare the fatuity of my arguments and I beheld the wisdom of Marie Harf-- our new Kennan.

Now I know Marie Harf was right because of the Marshall Plan, even though the “plan”, circumstances and timing are completely different.

There are misleading analogies and flawed analogies. Then there is this - a non-analogy which is better than the best analogy because it proves Marie Harf was right and right-wingers are stupid.

Journalist logic at its finest.

By the way, there is a better analogy for Harf and Micek to use. We once did dangle economic growth in front of an enemy engaged in a shooting war.

In 1965 LBJ proposed a “TVA on the Mekong” to Ho Chi Mihn as a carrot to end the invasion of South Vietnam. Ho turned him down cold. Hanoi and the NVA preferred victory first, economic development later.

Just for the record, let’s get a few other points clear.

The Marshall Plan was not an attempt to wean the Nazis away from their warlike ways or address Germany’s legitimate grievances. Before Marshall the Diplomat worked to rebuild Germany, Marshall the General had implemented the Total War strategy which left Germany crushed, helpless, and with no choice but to surrender “unconditionally”. Contra Harf and Micek, Marshall and the rest of the allies were quite prepared to “kill our way” to victory.

At no point did the US negotiate with the Nazis or dangle incentives before them.

As Churchill put in July 1941:

We will have no truce or parley with you [Hitler], or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst and we will do our best.
Finally, nuclear weapons, massive retaliation, and Mutual Assured Destruction had more to do with keeping the Cold War cold than did the Marshall Plan. The Bomb and the Polaris kept Western Europe free; the Marshall Plan helped them regain their prosperity.

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