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Kristol clear?

[ by Charles Cameron — it’s precisely the unanticipated that blindsides us, no? ]

Kristol Ourobouros


You know me, I’m very interested by the words “unanticipated” and “blindsided” — and I have the sort of mind that plays with words in the attempt to decode any “unanticipated” meanings they may hide. So for me, what follows is not an argument for or against Bill Kristol or Andrew Bacevich, nor a prescription for action or inaction against IS.

Here, then, is what strikes me as I read Kristol’s single sentence, as quoted by Bacevich, and it would strike me whoever’s sentence it was:

I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.

What Mr Kristol doesn’t think will occur, he doesn’t anticipate will occur n– that'[s what the words mean. And I so might translate his words thus:

I don’t anticipate there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.

But aren’t unanticipated side effects precisely the ones that aren’t anticipated?

I get ye olde dragon eating its tail feeling.


I mean, there must be more going on, right?

One person’s unanticipated consequence is another’s predictable outcome..

In any case..

William Blake‘s paintings are very far from accurate by photographic standards, but he seems to have anticipated the human consequences of the “dark satanic mills” of the industrial revolution way ahead of bis contemporaries. Prophecy, in my view, is more a matter of warning of trends that porediction of future states of the system. Success in foresight is a matter precisely of attending to what’s unantipiated by others — because it’s in one of their blindspots.

Every driver on the road should know this!

2 Responses to “Kristol clear?”

  1. Overload in CO Says:

    There’s a phrase I heard that this reminds me of: “There’s stuff we know we don’t know, and there’s stuff we don’t know that we don’t know.” Or words to that effect.
    I’m reminded of a series of tests a few years ago. It turned out that people who were bad at the tests self rated themselves higher that what their score eventually showed. That is, the people who were incompetent weren’t competent enough to recognize their incompetence. Or, as you tagged the post, a blindspot.

  2. carl Says:

    Mr. Bacevich’s (a very smart man) article is an exercise in the fallacy of the false alternative with posing an alternative. It argues only against military action overseas. It further says we have a choice but it doesn’t say what that choice is. DAESH says they are coming after us and I believe Mr. Bacevich argues we shouldn’t go after them likewise. Which leaves us with what? He doesn’t say.
    His argument rests largely upon our inept military performance over the last 15 years and states that if we continue acting militarily overseas we can expect to have to expend titanic resources in order to achieve a decisive result. Why as a citizen do I have to accept that? Why do we have to continue to so dang stupid? He states that in order to achieve a decisive result in Afghanistan we will need hundreds and hundreds of thousands of troops to occupy the place. Why? Until we recognize the real enemy in Afghanistan we could occupy the place with millions and millions of troops and still achieve nothing. If we were to recognize the Pak Army/ISI as the real enemy we could achieve decisive result with a public pronouncement of something along the lines of a selective blockade and some private phone calls informing a number of high ranking officers that all their overseas and in country money might suddenly disappear, computers being so capricious sometimes.
    Mr. Bacevich also states we would have to go after every outbreak of jihadi killers the world over. We will, for a time. DAESH isn’t going anywhere without considerable violence being directed their way. But the real problem is what is fomenting the jihadi killers, and it seems to me a large part of that problem comes from Wahabi proselytization pushed and subsidized by the House of Saud; not to mention all those other Gulf Arabs buying piety by giving to jihadi killers. So why can’t we recognize another enemy, the House of Saud, and act accordingly?
    Mr. Bacevich seems to argue that we continue to be stupid or do nothing. That is no choice at all since either or will result in our ruin. We got to stop bein’ stupidheads.

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