Saturday, April 16, 2005

Requiem for Orson Scott Card Pt.1

It's a said moment, when a man whom you once admired for his intellectual skills sinks so low and becomes a bitter, deluded partisan hack:

Condoleezza's Confirmation ( By Orson Scott Card January 30, 2005 ) When Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state (a) was opposed by 13 Democratic Senators, it did not imply that she was singularly unsuited to serve in the President's cabinet. (b)

It meant that the Democrats in Congress were determined to be brutally partisan ... at a time when our country is at war, and we need to show our enemies a unified and relentless determination to defeat them. (c)

Instead, those thirteen votes had no effect except to encourage our enemies that if they just go on killing Americans long enough (d), there's a party in America that will vote against continuing the war.

Once the decision to go to war is made, then the actions of members of Congress must be undertaken with consideration of how our enemies will interpret them. (e)


There are so many falsehoods and fallacies stacked one on another here, that I am begining to doubt Card's sanity:

a) Rice is to become the secretary of state. That is the person responsible for DIPLOMACY, Mr Card. I wonder if you could explain what that has to do with the war effort, morale boosting, etc. Would the Democratic refusal to an appointment of a secretary of agriculture be treason, too? I could stop this post at this point, but there is a lot more to point out.

b) yes, they implied she is "unsuited" and someone else would do the job better.
c) no, the "determination" to continue a mistake is not something we should want to show the enemy.

d) If Card is talking about the insurgents and terrorist in Iraq, then they already know that there is a limit of losses at which America will simply decide to cut losses and pull out. The limit is certainly lower than 60,000 KIA, the Vietnam casualties number, and no senatorial vote this way or that way is ever going to change that. Hell, if your talking of "killing Americans long enough", at 500,000 losses the Republicans and their mothers would "vote against continuing the war". If Card has no such reasonable limit, he is a sociopath.

e) the INTERPRETATION by the enemy should never ever be the deciding criterium of strategic decisions. How many troops get killed by your decision is much more important.

Demands that the leadership be never critisized and that a dissenting opinion is tantamous to treason can be found in every autocratic state in history. Despite that, whenever the souvereign power ( rulers or parliaments ) realised that the designated commanders in war, the generals and chiefs of staff, were incompetent idiots, they removed them and put them where they could do no more harm. Unfortunately for the soldiers on the ground, the political realisation that something just went wrong comes usually after undeniably large loss in manpower.

Let's just leave the issue whether Rice is competent or not aside. Card does not even try to discuss that so I do not need to refute it, too.

What Card demands is that we REWARD failures of any hypothetical commander, despite the evidence of his incompetence. Apparently, admitting a mistake is worse than continuing it, because it could change the FEELINGS of the enemy. Yet I wonder how much comfort does it give the enemy that when you keep a (hypothetical) incompetent idiot in command. Wouldn't putting a new face in charge make them uncertain about our tactics and boost the morale of our own soldiers (who know what the raw deal is), too?

Unfortunately, Card puts himself into the a camp or the authoritarian loyalists, the Knobelsdorf of Verdun, whose only guiding compass is the faith in the infallibility of the leaders, stemming from the fact that they are not qualified to distinguish a good plan from a bad one and to evaluate the quality of leadership accordingly. It would make a thousand times more sense if Card used the the precious time and publishing space he's got to prove that Rice is competent and the thirteen senators' criticism is objectively wrong.

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