The importance of Cajones

We looked down this morning...just to make sure.

Recently, readers have been writing to complain about our views on Iraq.
They've accused us of being a coward...of being a sissy...of lacking
cojones, in other words.

We had to look. And sure enough...nothing had changed.

And then we wondered - what is the connection? Do blockhead
world-improvers have bigger cojones than other people? More below...

Since writing a note in the DR last Thursday, here is an
example of the sort of letter we've been getting:

"I value your insights into the markets, the economy and investments
tremendously. Since becoming a reader of The Daily Reckoning, my portfolio
is way up. However, I have just a few points to add to your liberal slant
on all things non-financial. You say that the radical Islamists are
impotent because they don't have governments and standing armies? Did a
government or standing army kill 3,000 plus people at the World Trade
Center? Did a government or a standing army give the strategy, training,
explosives and determination to kill 300 people in the Madrid train
bombings? And don't forget the Indonesian nightclub bombing. And by the
way, if the 9/11 attacks were a criminal matter, could your 'cops' have
gone after the Islamic brass in Afghanistan? And, sir, if you haven't
learned it yet, the threat of retaliation is not a reason not to attack
your enemies. Particularly when they have already stated that their goal
is your death, and that they are working on the means to accomplish their
goals. So send your brandy-swilling friends out for a walk and grow some

We never thought of our point of view as 'liberal.' But the liberals
attack us as a 'conservative,' so we're happy to annoy them both -
liberals and 'conservatives'...republicans and democrats. We are truly
impartial; we love them all.

If you tried to apply a kind of 'pure logic' - admittedly impossible - to
the matter, where would it take you? Our critics maintain that some
criminals are special. They are so dangerous, so potent, such a threat to
life and limb, that the cops can't deal with them. They must be pursued by
the army. (And any man who says otherwise isn't a real man!)

Of course, to the average American, the current threat posed by the
'Islamic terrorists' is vanishingly small. Every day, more or less,
someone is murdered in Baltimore. As far as we know, no one has ever been
killed by 'Islamic terrorists.' Not a single one in the last 350 years.
Logically, murder by a homeland Christian (just guessing) is a much larger
threat. But there is no great demand for intervention by the troops from
nearby Fort Meade.

"This threat is different," say the cojones crowd. True, it is. But in
order to justify a 'war' - such as the war in Iraq - they must also
believe in a series of abstractions, theories, metaphors and guesswork:

- That there really is an organized group of 'Islamic terrorists'
- That the group is growing, becoming more effective
- That it will continue to grow
- That it will pose a real danger sometime in the future
- That these terrorists really have it in for Americans
- That they will get powerful weapons and learn to use them
- That international police organizations cannot stop them
- That military intervention can stop them
- That we (or someone) knows what kind of intervention will be effective
- That the effect of military intervention will not be negative
- That collateral damage and unanticipated consequences will not outweigh
the benefits
- That there will not be a backlash, actually aiding the terrorists
- That we can afford the intervention; that it's worth it
- That we Americans are behind intervention (a consideration for true
- That God himself is on our side (a consideration for religious people)

And so on...and so on...

The odds that any of these things are correct are unknowable. Some are
probably more or less true...some are probably more or less untrue. Logic
requires that the individual odds be toted up...some added...some order to yield the likelihood that the whole list is
correct. We don't know, but our guess is that an unemotional logician -
with cojones or not - would come to the same conclusion as Maggie
Thatcher. War always has consequences you can't foresee. In this one,
there were too many "uncertainties," she said.

No one ever accused Ms. Thatcher of lacking cojones.

"Cojones has nothing to do with it," says the logical mind. But cojones
has everything to do with it, is our guess. The actual odds that military
intervention will make the world a better place are probably very small.
In any case, they are certainly unknowable. So, the rational person would
probably not want to use military force - killing thousands of innocent
people...putting millions in danger...spending billions of dollars -
except when he had to...

...or when he wanted to.

Critics of the war in Iraq don't give cojones their due. Critics imagine
that the war crowd has made a mistake. They try to argue with
meet their foes with reason...and with reasons. What a waste of time. They
need to step back and look at the people they're arguing with; look at all
of us.

We have brains. But we have cojones too. Occasionally, we use our
brains...and occasionally we howl at the moon...

Bill Bonner
The Daily Reckoning