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Old March 24th, 2003, 10:20 AM
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Re: Thanks to the Brits.


I'm going to end this here because it is becoming silly.

1. The blood test comment was a joke--a very old joke in the survey research world. Of course it isn't a comparable thing. However, as you say, some polls are reliable, some are not. The ones that are not are the parlor games played by TV networks, newspapers and websites that ask stupidly unprofesionnally framed questions and publish raw responses from a self-selected sample. If they are honest they label themselves as "non-scientific." The ones that are reliable are those that publish a margin of error (ME), which indicates a specific sample was scientifically chosen. For business purposes I often read research findings which have been consistently reliable despite very low samples. I read one yesterday with a sample size of 150 and a margin of error of +/- 7%. Based on experience with the polling company's past work, I'm sure the results will turn out to be reliable. My point was that sample size is not a predictor of the accuracy of the poll, as someone had claimed in this string. Simple as that. End of story.

2. If you don't mind, I won't take you up on your offer of a piece of desert, because I am neither stupid nor naive. Of course I believe Saddam would attack us if he could. But the important part of that statement is "if he could." In opposing the war, I have personally been in favor of keeping the pressure on so that he is incapable of exporting his terror. Hans Blix and his merry men are clearly boobs and are in the pockets of the French and others. Neverthless, up until the day they left, they had by definition held the use and export of WMD's by Saddam in check. That is all we needed for the short and intermediate term. Yes, it was frustrating. Yes, it was hard to watch the endless and seemingly fruitless UN verbal sparring matches. Yes, it is hard for Americans to see themselves as only one voice among many. However, if the United States had a semblance of skilled diplomats, we could have held the line, and assured our safety from his WMD's until they were discovered, or until we could convince others that the string had run out.

To do that would have taken something rare in the United States: patience. Perhaps even the patience of Job. But if we want to be a moral superpower as well as an economic and military one, we must often exhibit that patience. I am not a Pollyanna, nor are most people who oppose the war. We understand Saddam as well as you do. We simply have a different, and we think better solution. You will claim it doesn't work. I will reply that we weren't patient enough to let it work. That is where we differ, nowhere else.

So you were quite wrong in your analysis of "what I was saying." What I was saying is that almost all Americans realized and understood that there were no good alternatives to the war in Afghanistan, and therefore there was no objection. What I was also saying is that roughly 30% of us in this country and a majority in the rest of the world believe that there are good alternatives to the present war. This does not mean that we believe Saddam is a good guy, or that he is not dangerous, or that he should be given free rein to export his terror, or that we should put up with him indefinitely. The French are wrong about a lot of things, but they were right in saying that war is always failure. In this case failure was not necessary, at least not yet.

That's really all I will say on this, since the talk here is supposed to be more or less about cruising.

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