Sunday, September 04, 2011

Libya learning and persuasion

I don't expect the right-wingers to learn, let alone acknowledge, their mistakes on Libya. The one intervention that saved civilian lives (probably), killed no Americans, and cost less than one percent of the Iraq-Afghanistan interventions, and the right opposed it. With a few exceptions like McCain.

We'll see whether the opposition on the left has anything to say. And to be fair, there's plenty of time for things to go badly. The big lesson of Iraq, one that I didn't realize in advance, is that chaos can be even worse than the Leviathon of tyranny (somebody should write that concept up).

Apropos of this, one Kevin Drum post:
I've been a skeptic of the Libyan operation from the start, but if this keeps up — and if the revolutionary government goes on to establish a decent regime — then it looks like President Obama's judgment in this matter may indeed have been better than mine. At a modest cost in dollars, virtually no cost in coalition lives, and no requirement for postwar occupation or rebuilding, we've backstopped an indigenous uprising against a brutal dicatator who was on the verge of slaughtering thousands of his own people. Not bad.
My own experience, which I think is fairly generalizable, is that within the course of a single conversation hardly anybody ever changes their mind — including me.
He says he changes his opinion over time, though. What works for me is new information. Even if I'm not persuaded originally, new info might convince me - but maybe not so much because it's new but because it's a crutch, an excuse that lets me shed my stupid original opinion. Anyway, good for Kevin for reacting to Libya.