Tag Archives: False Whatever

Better we didn’t shoot him?

Jay Homnick at The American Spectator isn't buying the "apotheosis of Obama" narrative he thinks is being told about the operation to take out Osama Bin Laden.  Partly because the target didn't really matter any more. He says:

Osama has been dead for years, of course, in the operational sense. He has not been in the position to lead anything. He was lucky enough to be physically in this world so he could read his own obituary. . . . He turned out to be in a suburban hovel rather than in a feral cave, but the basic reality was just as advertised. Once he went over-the-hill in Tora Bora, he was reduced to watching the reruns of his greatest episodes.

So operationally, it wasn't a high priority to get OBL.  He'd been cut off from the operations.  Ant it seems that when he's giving directions to others, it's more like advice.  Not orders.  And so:

I hate to say this, really I do, but it looks like we have done Zawahiri and Awlaki a huge favor by taking out their dotty old pensioner. They are off the hook of paying sentimental obeisance to the old mullah emeritus, plus as a bonus they get to invoke his martyrdom as a call to arms. Otherwise they might have had to smuggle him back to headquarters someday and deal with him up close.

We've been slowly working out this notion of the false dilemma with only one lemma (the false whatever), and I think this is a good version of it.  Homnick may be right about the consequences of killing OBL, but consequentialist arguments must always be constrastive.  That is, if you make a consequentialist argument against doing X, it must not only be from the bad consequences of doing it but you must show that those consequences are worse than not doing X.