Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. — Voltaire
Bush said differences over Iraq provide "an interesting debate." "There's a lot of people – good, decent people – saying `withdraw now.' They're absolutely wrong. ... We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake."
"Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster."
This was from a Presidential press conference of Monday, August 21st.
The thing which struck me immediately was that if the good, decent people saying withdraw now are absolutely wrong, then the converse of this is that George W. Bush is absolutely right. Of course the instant sarcastic thought is: absolutely Right wing.
But to explore this further, obviously W. has moved into the realm of moral absolutes. Being absolutely right about Iraq, he has achieved total certitude.
One could argue by doing so he joins the ranks of our greatest philosphers, saints, and of God himself, to say nothing of the notion of Godhead.
Heres a Wiki squib on certainty:
Certainty is the absence of all doubt. Something is certain if it is so clearly established or assured that skepticism could not exist. Philosophers have struggled for certainty, but have had many difficulties. Meditations on First Philosophy is a famous pursuit of certainty by Descartes. Contemporary views of knowledge do not demand certainty, but rather a "justified true belief".
I'm going to circle around this notion some. Okay, lets say Bushs critics are totally wrong, absolutely wrong. Well, there is not much point in the so-called "interesting debate". Ipso facto, Bush is already totally certain, and absolutely right. Not much point in debate then.
In fact it would appear that "W' has attained absolute Truth, in regards to the future of Iraq.
Lets stop and consider the philosophical notion of the Absolute:
"The Absolute is the totality of things; all that is, whether it has been discovered or not. It is usually conceived of as a unitary of the external cosmos and internal spiritual conscious — at least insofar as it can be acknowledged by the human mind — and as intelligible. In some varieties of philosophy, the Absolute describes an ultimate being. It contrasts with finite things, considered individually, known collectively as the Relative.
Heraclitus concerned himself with the knowable portion of the Absolute with his Logos. Plotinus, a Neo-Platonic philosopher, saw all forms of existence as emanating from 'The One'. The concept of the Absolute was re-introduced into philosophy by Hegel, Schelling, and their followers; it is associated with various forms of philosophical idealism. The Absolute, either under that name, or as the "Ground of Being", the "Uncaused First Cause", or some similar concept, also figures in several of the attempted proofs of the existence of God, particularly the ontological argument and the cosmological argument."(wikipedia)
Okay,okay, I realize I am getting into high-faluting notions, far away from the notions of Connecticut yankee who grew up in Midland, Texas.
But this Texan was saying back in 2004, " We're turning the corner....(in Iraq). He was saying the same thing in 2005, and early 2006. In this regard, to stretch the idea, a bit further, if you're in a city, and you turn the corner to the Right, 4 times in a row, you're right back where you started.
Thus in Iraq in 2004, we had about 140,000 troops, in 2005, in the range 137,000 to 145,000 troops, and now about 137,000 troops.In Oct. 2003 47 US soldiers were killed in Iraq per month, and now in August 2006, we, according to the average, will lose about 47 US soldiers killed this month.
Corners have been turned, and progress supposedly made, and the critics absolutely wrong, but the stay the course plan would appear to ensure more of the same, with some slight variations.
Okay, lets turn the corner and get back to the notion of the word absolutely.
Absolutely - - adverb - free from restriction or limitation; unconditioned; unqualified; perfect; purely. (Websters)This should suffice. I may laboring a point, but I believe nuance is important, and people should be held accountable for what they say; especially when we are talking about a policy that will end up meaning some individuals are going to die.
Therefore, to paraphrase, those calling for withdrawal are unconditionally wrong; they are perfectly wrong. And that would mean George W. is right with no conditions, perfectly right.
From this we surmise:
1) not only is G.W. Bush the Decider, he has attained in this instance perfect certitude.
2) anyone who disagrees is benighted, and absolutely wrong, though they are free to debate under their own delusion that they could ever be Right.
3)perhaps the next step after total certitude, will be the attainment of omniscience, and he will become like the 'star' child at the end of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey.
I read that our President is reading about Lincoln. Actually, it might be better if he were to read more about the life of Woodrow Wilson. Those who have read a biography of Wilson will recall that in 1919, Wilson campaigned strenously around the country, trying to convince the public that America should join the League of Nations. Wilson had dreams of spreading Democracy throughout the World. His 14 Points were considered very idealistic for the times.
Wilson was also a bit of a prig though. His involvement in Academia, and his Protestant upbringing made him probably our most intellectual President, but also meant he did not suffer fools lightly, and his 14 points, and the creation of the League of Nations were policies he could not compromise with his critics about. Meeting an upsurge of resistance to what he felt was absolutely necessary to create a lasting peace, after the War to end War, he gave up on his critics in the Senate, and in a trainstop tour, took his case directly to the people. At a stop in Colorado he had a stroke, and was never the same afterwards, and ended his presidency as a reclusive invalid.
One would hope that someone on the White House staff might slip him a book about Wilson in 1919, and what happens when a President gets ahead of the public, and caught up in their own notion of moral certainty, insists upon a course that begins to take on a Captain Ahab glow.