Pre Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
I have a question on this WMD thing. So, apparently we are now concluding that Hussein did not, in fact, have a huge stash of nuclear weapons aimed at New York and Washington DC. ThatÃ¢€™s a good thing, isnÃ¢€™t it? It means that the thing the administration wanted to prevent was, in fact, prevented, and not only that, a dangerous troublemaker has been removed from power in a very unstable region.
Glenn Reynolds replies, “You’d think.”
I mean, yes, it’s a good thing that Saddam isn’t pointing nukes at us. And, indeed, it’s a good thing all around that he’s not in power. But, if at the time we launched the war, he didn’t actually possess nukes, then it’s rather hard to argue that by launching the war we thereby prevented a nuclear attack. Unless we’re talking about something out of the Department of Pre-Crime from Minority Report.
This is like the old joke:
A guy’s at the doctor’s office in the waiting room. Occasionally he takes a small bottle out of his pocket and pours a small amount of liquid into his hand, and flings it around the room as he yells something incomprehensible very loud. After several episodes of this people were starting to watch him in the doctor’s office, and the receptionist says to the guy, “Excuse me, sir, is everything all right?” The guy replies, “Sure, I’m just keeping the elephants away,” to which the receptionist replies, “But, there aren’t any elephants around here.” The guy looks up to her and says, “See, it works.”
There are a lot of good arguments to be made in favor of the war–and even of the logic of the WMD claims. But this isn’t one of them.