Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Compound error

Obama leans over and whispers to Vladimir Putin “..lets wait until after the election when I'll have more flexibility (on missile defense)”, which Ambassador John Bolten immediately infers as “ ..a signal he’s planning to scale back the missile defense program.” Then makes the collateral inference that “Obama could be planning to give ground on a range of national security priorities.” And concludes by saying “There’s a huge cause for concern here.” Romney agrees saying “If re-elected, Obama will go soft on national security.” He then goes on to extend Bolton’s tenuous claim that Obama’s statements are cause for national concern by reading something that sounded like it came from an out-of-date 1950’s script “Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage ..” then refers to Russia as “..our no. 1 geopolitical enemy.”
Apart from it’s clandestine appearance ..Obama’s statement by itself presents the listener with a range of possible meanings. We know that missile defense is a weighty issue so a likely possibility is that Obama simply wanted to take it off the table at this venue. Bolten, however, makes it a cause for national concern ..basing one questionable inference on another. A preemptive strike based on the fallacy of false-certainty. Romney further compounds this fallacy by invoking demons that no longer exists.
Now it comes out that the purpose of Obama’s meeting was to discuss ways to better secure nuclear waste. Hardly an issue of national security and, realistically, not the most appropriate place to carry on high-level negotiations regarding missile defense. The outcome confirms the least consequential interpretation, which makes the Republican alarm sound insubstantial and based on a world-view that is out-of-touch with present-day reality.

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