Condi’s World: Fantasies and Post Hoc Fallacies

condi riceCondoleeza Rice, George W. Bush’s former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, has a disturbing habit of engaging in fantasy.  For example, her unsubstantiated assertion of Iraq’s nuclear capability, culminating in her famous remark that “we don’t want the smoking gun to be amushroom cloud.”  Of course, there was neither a smoking gun nor a mushroom cloud.

Then there was her embarrassing Freudian slip in which she appeared to refer to Bush as her husband.  Uh, no comment.

And now, in touting her memoir, Rice has the temerity to take credit for the Arab Spring, writing that it vindicates the Bush Administration’s policies, including the invasion of Iraq.  More fantasy and a classic example of the Post Hoc Fallacy.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc or “after this, therefore because of this” is a logical fallacy in which one erroneously attributes cause and effect simply because one event occurs before the other.  Put differently, it is a fallacy to conclude that A causes B merely because A occurs before B.

Now, there is clearly a cause and effect between Bush’s Iraq invasion and thousands of military and civilian deaths, a revitalized Taliban in Afghanistan, the spreading of Al Qaeda throughout the region, the strengthening of Iran, the tanking of the U.S. economy, and our disgraceful embrace of torture, extraordinary rendition, and other human rights violations.

But the Arab Spring?  Post hoc ergo …

Digby put it more colorfully:

the logic behind Rice’s view inexorably leads you to evaluate everyone in history through the lens of human progress — which means that none of the great villains can be held responsible for their deeds and nothing can ever be learned from bad decisions of the past. As long as the world goes on you can always make the case that things will probably turn out ok in the long run. And that’s hardly any comfort —as the old saying goes, in the long run, we’ll all be dead.

andy loveIn fact, in the short run a whole lot of Iraqi people are dead because of the United States’ inexplicable decision to invade their country. . .  If Iraq becomes a sane and prosperous nation some time from now, it will never render that policy, based on lies and propaganda, to be a good one — and Bush, Cheney and Rice will never get credit for any future progress because of it. They need accept that the best they can hope for is to end up among history’s inept clowns instead of history’s villains. It’s not much, but it’s all they’ve got.

So, despite their best efforts to rewrite history, will Bush, Cheney and Rice be viewed as villains or inept clowns?  The answer can be found in another philosophical proposition:  The Unity of Opposites.  They can be villains and clowns.

Andy Love
Fair and Unbalanced 

Published by the LA Progressive on October 25, 2011
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About Andy Love

Andrew Love has represented men and women on California's death row for 22 years. He also writes the blog Fair and Unbalanced.