Compulsive Centrist Disorder and Tom Friedman Disease

A while ago, I defined Compulsive Centrist Disorder:

Complusive Centrist Disorder has always bothered me because a certain policy or view will mysteriously be labelled ‘centrist’ regardless of where it actually falls on the political spectrum, and suddenly it will be far more respectable than other policies. It’s intellectual cowardice and laziness of a high order….
In this case, you might actually think my proposal is the best policy. However, the problem with Compulsive Centrist Disorder is that it short-circuits any discussion, since the compromise is automatically assumed to be a good idea. Rather than having to defend the centrist policy (which, again, may or may not be the optimal policy), the middle ground, or what the Mandarin Class deems to be the middle ground, which is not always the same thing, gains unwarranted status by default.

Now, Glenn Greenwald has discovered Tom Friedman Disease:

Put another way, these are the premises which Friedman, prior to the invasion, expressly embraced:
(1) If the war is done the right way, great benefits can be achieved.
(2) If the war is done the wrong way, unimaginable disasters will result.
(3) The Bush administration is doing this war the wrong way, not the right way, on every level.
(4) Given all of that, I support the waging of this war.
Just ponder that: Tom Friedman supported the invasion of Iraq even though, by his own reasoning, that war was being done the “wrong way” and would thus — also by his own reasoning — create nothing but untold damage on every level. And he did so all because there was some imaginary, hypothetical, fantasy way of doing the war that Friedman thought was good, but that he knew isn’t what we would get.
To support a war that you know is going to be executed in a destructive manner is as morally monstrous as it gets. The fact that there is some idealized, Platonic way to fight the war doesn’t make that any better if you know that that isn’t what is going to happen. We learn in adolescence that wanting things that we can’t have — pining for things that aren’t real or possible — is futile and irrational. To apply that adolescent fantasy world to war advocacy is the hallmark of a deeply frivolous and amoral person.

And it seems to be highly contagious:

But tragically, there is nothing unique about Tom Friedman. What drives him is the same mentality that enabled the administration’s invasion of Iraq and, so much worse, it is the mentality that is keeping us there and will keep us there for the indefinite future. We stay in Iraq in pursuit of goals we know are fantasies, because to do otherwise requires the geniuses and serious establishment analysts to accept responsibility for what they have done — and that is, by far, the most feared and despised outcome.

Amen to that.

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7 Responses to Compulsive Centrist Disorder and Tom Friedman Disease

  1. Roman Werpachowski says:

    “However, the problem with Compulsive Centrist Disorder is that it short-circuits any discussion, since the compromise is automatically assumed to be a good idea.”
    And there’s a reason for that… politics is often not about finding the *best* solution, it’s often about finding the commong ground. Unless you find a magical wand to make everyone agree with you, this is going to happen.

  2. This is all just another example of genocide. See my site for more.

  3. skunqesh says:

    Special Agent Manny Goldstooge, et al multi-personalities.
    You are sucha blogwhore.
    Although you deserve no direct comparison to Don Quixote, for the character was a least a gentleman, you are every bit as absurd.
    “Didn’t I tell you, Don Quixote, sir, to turn back, for they were not armies you were going to attack, but flocks of sheep?
    -Cervantes

  4. Roman,
    In the original post, I do recognize the role of compromise, but the compromise isn’t necessarily the best position–sometimes it’s the worst. The position should be evaluated on its own merits, and not just political process.

  5. Roman Werpachowski says:

    Mike:
    to an extent, yes. But, for example, what good is pushing for the best position if that puts you at odds with 90% of your political partners?
    Of course in an intellectual discussion we are free to evaluate the positions on their merits only, but that’s often not easily translated into actual decision-making. Such discussions, however, are of course very valuable because they allow people to clarify what they propose, what can be wrong with their propositions, to understand the motives of the other side, etc. Making compromise a merit in a purely intellectual discussion is of course silly.

  6. thanks for all

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