Monday, February 19, 2007

The Big Lie - Iraq - Again

I have been writing a series of How to Talk diaries. The goal of these diaries is to enable us to have successful conversations with people who should be agreeing with us, but do not yet.

One of the standard features of this series is a section called Mangle the Memes. This section gives us some tools to deal with the lock step counter arguments framed by the Right Wing Smear Machine, which is famous for generating and propagating The Big Lie.

This diary is going to deal with the current Big Lie - the consequences of a rapid pull out from Iraq. Want to know how to mangle this meme? Then follow me down the rabbit hole...

A Google search on "house republican consequences" yields 1,290,000 hits. I am not about to list them all, but I do want to focus on a couple of key points inside The Big Lie:

  • a swift U.S. pullout
  • Portrayal of Republican talking points as the only possible outcome

these are the two key points inside The Big Lie. In the initial How To Talk diary I defined Mangle the Memes:

The other side is not going to take all this lying down. They are going
to counter attack you with their favorite memes. You are going to counter attack them by never letting a meme go unchallenged. You have already defined your
terminology. You can mix up your counterattacks by using your predefined
terminology in response to their memes, or you can turn their own memes back on
them. Use either of these tactics, or both. You will confound your opposition
and carry the day
So lets take on the first of the key points above - a swift U.S. pullout.

Here is the first lie within The Big Lie. The other side is portraying calls for a withdrawal from Iraq as a swift U.S. pullout. The lie is no one is calling for a swift pullout. Rep. John Murtha got the pullout ball rolling in 2005 as reported by Fox Noise:
Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and decorated Marine Corps veteran who served in the Vietnam War, last week urged the withdrawal of all U.S. troops within six months.
Is 6 months your idea of swift? Here is how the President talked about Murtha and his proposal:

Congressman Murtha is a fine man, a good man, who served our country with honor and distinction as a Marine in Vietnam and as a United States congressman.
He is a strong supporter of the United States military. And I know the decision
to call for an immediate withdrawal of our troops...

An immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq will only strengthen the terrorists' ... they can turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven for terror, a place where they can plot and plan attacks against America

Even Harvard's Nieman Watchdog has fallen into the immediate pullout trap. Consider this:

General William Odom, one of the earliest advocates of an immediate withdrawal
Here is General Odom's earliest statement on this subject as reported by the Nieman Watchdog:

debating an early pullout. Many US officers in Iraq, especially
at company and field grade levels, know that while they are winning every tactical battle, they are losing strategically.
How does debating an early pullout become one of the earliest advocates of an immediate withdrawal?

The very next Odom article published by the Nieman Watchdog, describes Odom's previous article
as get out of Iraq now
The real problem here is that Odom did not say that. Odom went form calling for debating an early pullout to one of the earliest advocates of an immediate withdrawal in a span of just over 15 months. Nowhere in this period does the Nieman Watchdog report Odom actually calling for an immediate withdrawal

So there is lie number one. General Odom calls for debating an early pullout. This is turned into one of the earliest advocates of an immediate withdrawal. John Murtha's call for withdrawal of all U.S. troops within six months is turned into an immediate withdrawal by no less than the President of the United States.

Once we understand what the lie is, refuting it becomes a fairly straightforward exercise. Whenever you hear someone describing an immediate withdrawal, stop them right there. Ask them who is proposing an immediate withdrawal. They will not be able to give you a name. If they try to give you a name, ask them to supply a link or some other documentation. Accept only direct quotes attributed to that name. These can not be supplied because they do not exist.

That should be enough to end the conversation right there. You will have defeated the premise of the argument for all these dire consequences to necessarily follow.

In the next installment of the Big Lie, we will see how to defeat the cause - effect argument for a non-existent immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

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