Monday, September 12, 2005

Bastiat Goes to Basra

I was talking to a friend recently, and the discussion turned to Bastiat, whom I've read in relatively small part (I'd first known him for his Swiftian swipe at trade protectionism, 'The Candlemakers' Petition'.) But he's probably better-known for his analysis of the 'broken window fallacy'. Talking about it, I got to wondering where President Bush, Secretaries Rice and Rumsfeld, and certain strident war-hawks would be without it.

What they would be, however, is honest. It at least makes some sense to wonder what the combined images of our beleaguered occupation of Iraq and the despair of the victims of Katrina recommend to the jihadists. Bush's rhetorical triangulations around whatever 'staying the course' actually implies do not affect the present condition of the country. But what they do permit, as Ivo Daalder observes over at TPMCafe, is claiming as evidence of military success the total number of terrorists killed in three failed attempts to secure the strategically important Iraqi city of Tall Afar.

In this respect, Bastiat's famous fallacy (at least a cognate of it) has become a distinct talking point for the administration.


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