Journal: Chuck Spinney Sends on Will & Wont

Analysis, Ethics
Chuck Spinney
Chuck Spinney

My good friend Werther had this to say about David Brookes' op-ed, “The Tenacity Question,” in the 29 October 09 of the New York Times, which argued that the solution to Afghanistan was a simple question of mustering willpower.

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Sola Fide

“The sleep of reason breeds monsters.”
Francisco Goya

By Werther*

As yet more evidence for why the newspaper industry is in an apparently terminal decline, yesterday the New York Times published neoconservative columnist David Brooks' justification for more quagmire in Afghanistan.

There are so many things wrong with his reasoning that we can only skim the surface.

Will, or lack of will, is just one variation of the “stab in the back” argument that has been a staple of the Right Wing in all nations that have been on the losing end of wars during the last century, most notably Germany in 1918. The Hitlerian psychological complex, whereby “unshakable will” was supposed to be superior to the mere correlation of material forces (e.g., General Paulus should have held out at Stalingrad despite the fact that his frost-bitten troops were reduced to eating rats and frozen horse carcasses), was an outgrowth of defeat in World War I.

Note also that Brooks, although he is a pencil-necked geek who does his non-combating via the op-ed pages of the New York Times, openly denigrates “intellectual sophistication” (i.e., thinking) in favor of “will,” that is, the dull-witted determination of a bull dog staring down a rat hole.

* Werther is the pen name of a Northern Virginia-based defense analyst.

Phi Beta Iota: This argument against emotional decision-making is also flawed.  ‘Reason” is a characteristic of macho-shit (male) thinking that emphasizes “justice” or as Chompky puts it, What We Say Goes.  See also his Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (American Empire Project) (Hardcover).  In fact, the “triumph” of “reason” or “science” is a form of objectivism that dismisses the MAJORITY of voices and perceptions, such as those of women, people of color, and the otherwise marginalized.  See our review ofMapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women’s Thinking to Psychological Theory and Education on this latter point, and on the former,Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West .  Our comment today onSearch: Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefieldalso bears on this matter.  Extremes are bad, moderation is good, and diversity of views harmonized in the context of reality, firmly founded on the truth, are essential.

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