Ad hominem with selective, misleading quotes


Ad hominem arguments are a preferred tool for people who ran out of real arguments (or are unable to understand someone else's opinion in the first place).
It's so much easier to just attack another person instead of attacking his arguments (especially if the other person is right.)

I'm used to it, as my often unconventional opinions are rather difficult to explain without much elaboration. Many people are simply unwilling to understand uncommon opinions.
I rarely discuss matters if I agree with a majority. It would seem kind of pointless to me. I'm therefore always a minority and disadvantaged in several regards in discussions.
I'm used to it.

I'm not used to ad hominem attacks with quotes that become badly misleading without context, though. This blog - full of unconventional opinion - is apparently a rich hunting ground for people intent on using such a primitive rhetoric trick.

I encountered such an example recently in the comments of another blog. Here two quotes he chose:

“The USA was never really necessary to protect Western Europe against the Soviets, simply because the Soviet military power as we remember it was in great part a fantasy of U.S. intelligence services.”
(from here)

Indeed, whenever the West discussed an x gap or an y gap because the Soviet Union was supposedly more powerful in this or that aspect, it was wrong. The U.S. intelligence services overstated the Soviet Union's strength right to the day of its collapse.
The consequence was that the West deemed a stronger military necessary than was really necessary. This means that the U.S. forces in Europe (who provided a rather small minority of NATO combat power in Europe and Central Europe anyway) were pretty much excess strength.

The U.S. forces weren't all excess strength because especially the amphibious capability had global consequences in the bloc struggle - but U.S. forces weren't really necessary for the defence of Europe.
About four divisions, some smaller ground units and some air wings; that's not much even in comparison to the German army alone (almost 12 divisions), it's much less in comparison to German, French, British, Dutch, Belgian and Danish units. The deployment of U.S. reserves in time was unrealistic and wouldn't have matched European mobilization anyway.
Now that's something that "Fulda Gap" tunnel vision people don't accept.

The inflated intelligence estimates had the further problem that they heated up the arms race and conflict - a strictly non-desirable part of the Cold War.
We were about on par with or superior to the Warsaw Bloc but sensed a "gap", closed that "gap" and in fact had made the next step in the arms race (ahead of the WP) that forced them to follow (and made the WP truly believe that we were intent on invading them).
This part of the history is not nice, and I won't let them get away with outdated Cold War age myths.

The problem: Someone without the right background knowledge could draw very wrong conclusions from that quote. "in great part" was probably not the best choice of words as well.

Americans (well, at least right wingers*) like to declare all critique and refusal to accept pro-U.S. myths as anti-Americanism.
"They're all haters" is a convenient explanation that enables them to avoid the tough job of admitting that all that glitters is not gold.

- - - - -

Another quote:

There are reasons to believe that the Jewish/Israelis have left the “victim” status and went over some limit of what Europeans generally consider acceptable behavior in the handling of neighbors.”
“Don’t get me wrong – there’s more support for Israel than for Arab countries in Europe. That’s because the Israelis are somewhat accepted as some of “us” (participating in European sports and arts contests) in addition to the holocaust argument (which has become a strange argument after two generations).
I don't really doubt that I wrote it, but even google was unable to find the quote on my blog.

Here are two points; 1) acceptable behaviour.
Bombing, raiding and occupying neighbours is not acceptable in Europe, that's a fact. The Serbs got beaten up for much less. No European state has as difficult relations to his neighbours, but it's just fair to point out that none has treated his neighbours like Israel did in the post-WW2 period. The Serbs and Russians came close, and neither behaviour was considered as acceptable.

The second point is about the holocaust argument.
I called it a "strange" argument in the context of inter-state relations, and for a reason.
Imagine you get beaten up badly by some guy. You go to hospital.
Decades later you decide to beat up your neighbours.
Your lawyer defends you with the fact that you've been beaten up yourself.
Now I would call that a "strange" defence, at best!

I most certainly wrote "Jewish" because Israel has a significant non-Jewish minority and the policy of the state of Israel doesn't look like the policy of its Arab minority to me.
I was sometime last year advised that in English the word "Jewish" is OK and "Jews" problematic.

The previous choice of a quote for a ad hominem argument was (in my opinion) aimed at the exploitation of prevalent anti-Americanism paranoia.

This latter choice of a quote was apparently intent on painting me as a nazi (not the first time this has happened - it's a popular and cheap ad hominem attack on Germans).
Nazi ideology doesn't fit to any of my ideas, this should be very obvious in regard to foreign relations for anyone who reads here.

Nevertheless, I exercise my right of free speech and call out the nude emperor if there's a wrong myth or if conventional wisdom is tainted by political correctness.
I don't let some idiots of a previous generation limit my freedom of speech.

A fair discussion is almost a precondition for a good discussion.Cheap rhetoric tricks deserve to be exposed and sanctioned.

"anti-american" and "anti-semite" stereotypes are widely known and therefore easy fodder for ad hominem attacks. The pity is; the world is so much more complex than most of those who need to resort to lowly rhetoric tricks seem to grasp. People with unconventional opinions are especially prone to be targets of ad hominem, and conservatives know it. The use of such rhetoric tricks doesn't help, though. The smart people are seeking smart people for exchange of ideas, not those who resort to rhetoric tricks.

The simple fact that my opinions are not widely shared suggests that some of them are simply wrong. The majority of those in disagreement doesn't discuss my opinion, though - they resort to ad hominem. That's not helpful in any way. I'm always interested in a proper discussion and have changed my opinion many times because of convincing additional arguments or information.

*: Left and right wing in the U.S. seem to differ in their opinions and their view of the world more than I've ever experienced with Frenchmen, British, Canadians or other nations.
Germany has a small anti-military and a very small pro-military wing, but the great majority is rather uninvolved.


  1. It's always about the economy. The Russians never had one and a few people like me (and Condi Rice) never worried about a great Soviet invasion. I predicted they'd lose in Afghanistan (and was mocked by my betters). This wasn't genius, just an understanding that economics, or a lack of it, matter. As I said in the previous thread, the US should have left NATO by the early 1980s. The US was in bad shape economically after the Vietnam war. We stayed out of foreign entanglements for a while and our economy rebounded. This is a cycle that all countries go through and yet as soon as we felt economically secure we decided to squander our wealth in an endless war... and here we are again.

  2. I agree with 95% of the things you say politically

    I like your point of view on Israel, I have a similar one

    "I know abused kids abuse their own children, but the Palestinians aren't their children and its gone on too long!"

    also I think you'd like this video:


  3. I'm with you Sven. My only comment is that I think the US forces in Europe were necessary as a credible and sustainable show of force. We can argue about the composition and size of the force, but it was necessary up to 1990 at least to show the flag. Plus having the bases there, especially Ramstein AFB, was a great stepping stone into the ME and Africa.