"Stability is the Absence of Change"
. As an upstart left-wing blogger, you're sorta under a kind of unspoken pressure to take on the bigwig conservative bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds. I'm happy to take a shot at Andrew SUllivan from time to time, and I do, but I've said nary a word against Glenn Reynolds so far in my short blogging career. Why is that?
Simply put, it's because his blog, InstaPundit
, offers so little content that there's very little worthy of response. Take a look at his site if you haven't already. In many cases, he links to some article or report with little or no commentary, and he frequently gives the reader absolutely no idea what the linked material is about. Now, far be it from me to criticize his method (his blog is infinitely more widely read than little ol' mine), but it does leave this fellow blogger with very little to criticize. If I found something objectionable in one of the articles he links to, I would take on the article directly (with a token "thank you" to Instapundit for bringing the article to my attention).
Because of this content-lite approach, however, I find his blog to be very rarely of any interst, and I do not check it very frequently. Contrast this approach with my feelings about Andrew Sullivan. I confess, I love Sully's blog. I do check it every day, and I can't wait for him to get back from his long, Bushian vacation. This isn't, obviously, because I agree with Sully, or even because I respect his ideas or argumentation. I don't. Most of Sully's posts are transparently ridiculous. But he is entertaining, and I enjoy reading his stuff. I can't say the same for InstaPundit (however, I find InstaPundit's line of argumentation, when he makes one, far more cogent than Sully's).
From time to time, though (and, in fairness, probably more often than this post would suggest), InstaPundit does provide some real content, and does put forth some sort of idea which is available for comment or criticism. Such a thing happened only yesterday
, when Prof. Reynolds made the statement that I quote in the headline to this post. He was talking about those craven-hearted leftists who bleat about an invasion of Iraq destablizing the Middle East. He says "Stability is the absence of change, meaning that so long as the situation is stable, things will stay dreadful. And we don't want things to stay dreadful, do we?" I will leave that very enticing question dangling for another day, but I do have a point to make.
Stability is not the absence of change. Or at least, it isn't that simple. I mean, think about it. This country has been pretty darn stable for an awfully long time, politically speaking. Recently, we've weathered an impeachment scandal and an election scandal, but our system of government has remained in place, and firmly so. Within that stable framework, we have gone through radical changes in policy, lifestyle, etc. When you talk about destablizing the Middle East, you're not just talking about promoting change. You are talking about risking the collapse of political stability, which throws the whole future of the region into absolute doubt. We have no way of knowing what might happen, and what problems might be caused. It's alarmist, certainly, but also plausible, that an American invasion of Iraq could plunge the entire region into a series of wars. When the political system becomes destabilized to the point where its continued survival is in serious doubt (a point that I don't think this country has reached since the Civil War), the situation can quickly devolve into an armed struggle for political supremacy. This is what regime change means.
Now, the regime in Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia, and in other Arab states, is not exactly what we would hope for. So, it's entirely possible that this period of intense violence and mass slaughter could be a birthing period for something of lasting value, a democratic revolution in the Middle East, which would contribute to the long-term stability of the entire world. That would be great. But once the present stability slips, everything is up in the air. It's true that the current situation in the Middle East is far from desirable, but arguing that destablization is necessarily a good thing on that basis is simply wrong. It's like throwing in a bad hand in poker: your next hand might be better, or not, and you can't really predict which way it will go.
On the issue of war with Iraq, I think that the hawks are seriously underappreciating the risks involved, and I think Prof. Reynolds's attitude, as expressed in this post, exemplifies that. That is not, in and of itself, an argument against invasion. It is, rather, a plea for patience and deliberation.
That having been said, I still haven't seen what I would consider to be a decent argument in favor of invasion, and that is
, in and of itself, an argument against.