Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Bob Kerrey Sighting

I was a bit surprised to see Bob Kerrey, an old favorite senator, pop up in print today, even more so that it was in the Wall Street Journal to defend America's action in Iraq.

The opinions in Kerrey's piece that the Iraq war was justified but terribly prosecuted are fairly close to mine, but it's his general thought pattern I think is most deserving of comment. He reminds us that the debate on not just Iraq, but also health care, Social Security, and many others tend to be defined not by thoughtful analysis, but extremes and false dichotomies.

One can have favored going into Iraq but still feel President Bush has masterfully messed it up. And one can be critical of his policies and be supportive of the troops. Issues like Iraq are extremely complex, and one big problems humans, especially ideologues, have is the tendency to learn only one or two simplistic lessons from important events and trends.

In the case of Iraq, there are innumerable lessons to learn, and no single easy prescription for America's future foreign policy strategy. It is when ideologues rule the debate that we reactively yank ourselves from too far on one side of a position to too far on the other. It's a pattern we can see in Reconstruction, post-World War I indemnification of Germany, and the aftermath of Civil Rights and Vietnam just to name a few.

Passion is easy, reason is hard. Guess from which wisdom springs.

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