Thursday, June 16

Adversative Disjunction

A lot of people are arguing about the meaning of the word "fixed" in the The Downing Street memo:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

To me, the important word here is not the participle but the conjunction: "but."

They seek to justify the invasion with WMD and terrorism. But.

But. However. On one hand, the search for justification. On the other hand, intelligence fixed around the policy. The important logical implication here is that the search for justification and the method used to create the justification are, as the logicians say, disjoint:

Definition: A set whose members do not overlap, are not duplicated, etc.

In other words, there is the sought-after justification, on one hand, and the fixing of intelligence around policy, on the other. No member of the latter set is a member of the former set. Thus, no fixing of intelligence around policy produces a valid justification for war on the basis of WMD and terrorism.

The implication is clear: the man was saying that the U.S. had presented no valid justification for war. Of course, he could have been mistaken. How about we review all the information he had in order to determine whether HIS reasoning was sound?

The adversative disjunction, that's the real semantic issue here.

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