Friday, April 27, 2007

Critical Thought

Words are funny things. Not just the evolution of their meanings and the constantly changing idioms, colloquialisms and provincial usage of different phrases, but the manner of saying exactly the same thing but meaning the exact opposite. For example, when something or someone causes or makes something happen, there are different ways of attributing the resultant action to its cause.

We can assign blame or we can award credit. Obviously, one is “bad” while the other is “good.” So when we speak of the cause of… say, the war in Iraq - are we awarding Bush credit for the war? I think not. In fact, in a Los Angeles Times story recently, it referred to the administration as finding someone to blame the war on. In this case, it was a story about George Tenet’s new book and the idea that he is the administration’s scapegoat for the fiasco in Iraq. After all, it was his “slam dunk” statement.

"Tenet's comment's represent a new and potentially politically damaging source of fire in a battle among Bush administration officials over blame for the Iraq war."
These are the reporter's words, not mine, not a source's and not attributed.

Like everything else that has to do with this quagmire, it is far more complex than all that. One simple little instance of over-optimism shouldn’t be enough to lead our nation into this unnecessary and unmitigated disaster. Of course and as we now know, it was much more than that. And that’s not the point. What is important here is how we are now referring to the war today as opposed to four years ago.

No one in the press was “blaming” anyone. It was not yet a “civil” war. Now, the press, in many instances, uses different language when assessing the war - and finding blame is one of them. The credit, however, will not be awarded to Bush. Ever. There is the potential for credit to be awarded to whomever extricates us from this mess, but it won’t be given to this president or this congress. Like the problem, the solution will be complicated, but eventually there has to be some sort of resolution.

So here’s the question of the day/week/month/year… millennium: How long before this happens again? When will the watchdogs wake up? Is it possible that the “lessons learned” this time really were? It’s not just the press, or the congress; it’s everyone. Somehow, someway enough of us - with or without the mainstream media’s help - have got to stand up before a military conflict gets signed off and say, “Um… excuse me. Wait just a darned minute. What about… ?” And then ask those hard questions. Military engagement is the most serious foreign policy decision a nation can ever make. Don’t you think it’s time we gave it just a little bit of critical thought first?


kenju said...

Oh, absolutely! It is definitely time for critical thought, but we will have to wait a while for that. The person in question reminds me of a banty rooster in the hen yard. He has to prove himself to be a powerful leader, in spite of the fact that he is smaller than the hens. So he puffs himself up and struts around the hen yard, ready to bully anything that might say he is not the head of the group.

Michele sent me tonight, Mike.

awareness said...

It seems to me that there were people who tried to throw the questions out for consideration and they were quickly rebuked with stinging comments about lack of patriotism and disrespect for the government etc by some of the media, and government AND by their fellow "neighbours". For a while it appeared that if one had an opposing view, or questioned the decisions being made, they would be swarmed with "how dare you's" and "for shames...."
Famous people who were critics were initially shunned by the public when all the rhetoric was being thrown around.

I don't know when things changed...and people began to feel comfortable and supported enough to express their opposing would be interesting to look back on the past year or so to see if there was an event or tipping point that changed the tide.

WE should always have the freedom to question and express our opinions.......and perhaps we shouldn't put our politicians and decision makers up on a pedestal. We must remember that we vote them in......that they are no better or worse than us.....and that our informed opinions are just as valid.

One more thing..... the other day while I was delivering a workshop to my colleagues, I was trying to explain a concept and used a story from the national newspaper to illustrate it. When I asked the group if they had seen/read it (cover story....big pics too) not one person had. This response is common. Most people I share a work environment don't have two clues about what their government is doing (AND they work for them!!!) nor what is happening internationally unless it is so monumental that they can't help but know.

I wish more people would take ownership......would be confident in their own ability to critically think.......and would speak up.

carmilevy said...

History has proven that humans are patently unable to understand the lessons of the past and apply them to present and future behaviors. The U.S. will have more Vietnams and Iraqs just as certainly as the world will have more holocausts.

It's baked into our DNA: we're a patently stupid species. I wish it were any less stark than that, but it really isn't.

Foster Dogs said...

Good point!

Here via Michele'!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, I was raised to question authority & have done so especially in regards to this war.
What Awareness wrote about the apathy of their co-workers is something I see every day, I have written it off to working with many college age people but then the customers I talk to on the phone are often the same way, other than the ones who are, for the most part over 70 & they're all watching Fox News! Critical thought begins with education though & most people don't choose to be educated on current events which is a sad state of affairs.
Here from Micheles today.

Bobkat said...

I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately the psychologist in me know that individual people learn but people as a group don't. I hope te lesson is learnt this time.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Agreed, Mike. But if everyone continues to lie and fabricate to everyone else for personal gain and ego---(Love the Image of that Strutting Rooster...(Help Us Oh Lord)---this is never going to happen. The "truth" after the fact doesn't help anyone. And the greed factor on the part of many many people, including the media, is overwhelming to the point of more lies being told for personal gain, on the part of our so called leaders, more gain for the media--Corporations, that is--etc., etc. OY! If we didn't learn from Viet Nam...Well, I don't think it is poissible. And besides...Someone voted for this administration...Enough people that this man got re-elected to do more and more damage and these people still obviously buy into the lies that are told and printed, as fact...Like I said...OY!

Anna said...

Totally agree Mike.

Hope that you are enjoying your weekend!

Anonymous said...

Somehow, someway enough of us - with or without the mainstream media’s help - have got to stand up before a military conflict gets signed off and say, “Um… excuse me. Wait just a darned minute. What about… ?” And then ask those hard questions.

This not only applies to war, it applies to everything. I believe it's the same when Congress or the President wants to restrict Freedoms further as well as war.

purplefugue said...

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

I don't believe for one second that there ever was or is a plan for getting out of Iraq. It's scary to think what might happen there and in the region in the event of a sudden withdrawal of troops. Did anyone even consider the repercussions of that?? It seems like someone was pretty eager to play Risk with human lives, and hang the consequences.

Here from Michelle's.

rashbre said...

You don't have to look far to see elements of it already. Theres the Helmand Province full of heroin poppies and soldiers already. Theres the allegations of Iranian nuclear capability along with the recent rounding up of inapproriately headscarfed women. And I suppose the Hamas rockets into Israel on Tuesday. And I've hardly got out of one zone to list these.

And in UK the headline is more about whether we'll send a royal prince into Iraq.


Snaggle Tooth said...

In the USA it IS up to citizens to check n balance, n hold accountable those we elect. If the Patriot Act had not been in effect since the 911 attack, this war would've been debated more before being allowed to exist.
The lesson learned in 'Nam was never start a big fight without an exit stategy, n that's exactly what our problem is in Iraq now-

It's too late to expect the "Aha, we already knew that!" approach of learning from history from leaders who do what's popular, not intelligent. We need smart people making the descisions-

I was born a critic...

neal said...


I knew as soon as Bush Jr. got into office we would be going back into Iraq. This war is about money, oil and revenge.

911 just happened to occur which gave him a reason under his new found War on Terror.

The question now is what are we going to do with the hornets nest we have stirred up?

Saddam may have been a bad guy, but we didn't have the uprisings and rampant terrorism that we do now. If we leave without ensuring the Iraqi government can handle it, Iran will assume control. If we stay more young men and women will die because it may take decades for the Iraqis to be able to handle it. It is a lose/lose situation and we can place all the blame on GW Bush's shoulders.