Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Naive Realist and Enjoyment

The international relations realists have been riding in the rumble seat for quite a while. One wonders if they will not soon take over the steering wheel from the international relations moralists.

I'll put my cards on the table. I was against the Iraq War before it started. I was persuaded by the more sober and serious assessments concluding the projected benefits and costs could not be achieved. Subsequent events have shown that it has indeed been a case of poor planning based on bad information followed by poor execution.

Now, we see the continuation of bad business practice. It is standard practice when doing a financial analysis of an ongoing project that one disregards sunk costs. One reassesses future benefits, costs, and discounts it by the opportunity cost. Is any of that being done when assessing the Iraq War? No.

I know my comments will disturb those who hold strictly moralist sentiments about the war. Fine. Moral concerns are always a relevant factor when it comes to war whether one holds moral attitudes for or against it.

However, relevant questions arise. Why is performance so bad when viewed from a disinterested business perspective? Who is accountable? Are they being held accountable? Are there any who accept accountability for performance and results?

"Potential is nothing; performance is everything," Bud Wilkinson.

The President says we will set no timetables because it will aid the enemy? His statement leads me to reflect on another sort of reality.

There is more to naive realism than my expression of it. Part of this more is knowing the mind of the enemy and how it comes to be that way. Multi-discipline expert study is now replacing naive conventional wisdom. The question is whether the political situation will allow credence and influence for that essential knowledge when making decisions. How much is invested in the conventional wisdom? How many of the sunk costs invested in the conventional wisdom will be defended even though the future is the only relevant factor?

Enjoyment adds another layer to my assessment of the war. Jodi Dean's engaging thoughts and articles about enjoyment at I cite have stimulated my own personal thoughts about enjoyment.

I watch the war on television. The spectacle both horrifies me and fascinates me. How does the spectacle create and reinforce my resignation that there is simply nothing I can do about the war? How does the enjoyment of the spectacle and my passivity prevent me from arriving at sober assessments and conclusions about what needs to be done next?


At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Jodi said...

Thanks for the link. It's icky, isn't it, when we have to confront our own enjoyment. These days, my refrain is "I told you so. You right wing morons, we were saying all along this was going to be a big mess." And I so enjoy being so right, so righteously right, so confident in my judgment that they were and are self-centered, venial, war mongers. And this enjoyment and self-satisfaction is politically deadly. In fact, at least one of the reasons that the so-called Red State voters hate people like me.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Lynn said...


As I ride along in the rumble seat, I enjoy the sight of the train that has run off the tracks. But as you say, "this enjoyment and self-satisfaction is politically deadly."


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