Thursday, April 08, 2004

Constructive Criticism Serves A Purpose

In responding to this post, I boiled things down to a childish rant where nothing of substance was provided. Your opinion may differ of course, and guess what, that's allowed in this country. What I took issue with was the lack of constructive criticism provided. Am I expecting too much from political opponents of the current administration? I don't think so, but it appears that during this election cycle we will see more than our fair share of the above, and less of the ideal.

Why is that? Do we all inherently crap on others without offering substance because politics is about soundbytes and jabs; making the other side look worse by comparison without regard to truth, fact, "nuance", or substance? Or is it possible that those who criticize do not even know what constructive criticism is (as a product of public school, this does not seem outlandish)? Maybe we need a definition:


1. Serving to improve or advance; helpful: constructive criticism. 2. Of or relating to construction; structural. 3. Law Based on an interpretation; not directly expressed.

"Serving to improve or advance; helpful". If individuals are true to themselves, they can easily see that most (99%) of political criticism does not come close to being constructive (this includes both sides of the aisles, so stop pointing at the other guy). And suffice it to say, it has been my experience that those who offer nothing but critiques lacking in constructive responses are not to be taken seriously.

Should the current administration be criticized for their bumble-f--king around in Iraq? Sure. But in doing so, it might be best if commentators offered ideas on HOW TO MAKE IT BETTER. Stop using 20/20 hindsight to support 'gotcha' and 'I told you so' statements as no one appreciates that worthless crap. Seriously, how many communists have given up their support of a corrupt doctrine based on the 'I told you so' statements regarding the former USSR? Exactly.

For example, I would criticize the occupation for attempting to pacify the minority of Iraqis whose sole purpose was to stick around and screw up anything the US did. I never would have let Sadr get a leg up after the war, I would've covered the ground with so many marines that anyone THINKING of attacking coalition troops in hopes of starting an uprising would be 1) shot on site or 2) arrested and held until democracy took root (around 2010). I can understand the US not wanting to appear cold-hearted, which is likely why they let these groups continue to simmer (in hopes that local Iraqis would calm the storm, a premise almost as stupid as thinking a proud people would welcome being militarily destroyed in under a week). However, in the long run it only serves to embolden those who think we will not respond (i.e. Mogadishu). Now that their mistake has been realized, they are going about rectifying the situation in a perfectly satisfactory manner, which hopefully will bring about the end result of neutralizing these minimal threats. But I would stretch it further than just Fullajah, I would run a sweep of the entire nation. Get everyone, not just those insurgents who have played their hand early.

See, constructive criticism. It's really not that hard, except if one is more interested in flinging mud in hopes that it will stick, rather than identifying REAL problems and offering ideas for REAL solutions. Treat it like a business where you have a substantial interest in seeing success over failure.

I agree with Oliver that withdrawal is NOT an option, and never has been. The point is to 1) slowly turn over control to the Iraqis when they are ready, 2) support them as their fledgling democracy takes root and grows (i.e. trade pacts, etc) and 3) demonstrate that the US makes good on its word, even if it makes mistakes along the way. The last thing the US needs is another damn Mogadishu.

Final Note: There are plenty of sites out there that offer definitions of arguments and fallacies (straw men, etc.) After reading countless blogs during the past few years it has become painfully clear that many do not understand argumentation. So, as a reading assignment to everyone (including myself, never hurts to touch up), I offer the following. Read it; learn it; use it. We have enough to worry about with big media screwing things up without having commentators in the blogosphere doing the same (that especially goes for those who enjoy the personal attack, as nothing loses you an argument faster than "well, you're stupid....")