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Katharina Hone March 23, 2013

Thanks for a brilliant piece. 1) My first reaction on the misled vs. mislead myself is this. Applying the logic from your example ("to volunteer" versus "to be volunteered"), the misled-debate can also be interpreted in a different way. Interestingly, and I think in contrast to you (?), I would prefer to say "decision-makers misled themselves" (not very elegant way of expressing it, but this is another matter …) to "decision-makers were mislead." I think that just as much agency should be given to those who choose to belief a certain story as to those who choose to use a certain story strategically. In terms of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a game of shifting the blame is going on between intelligence services and politicians. Who misled whom? In this case, I would clearly prefer to argue that politicians misled themselves - at least to a certain degree. This leaves the agency with them and doesn’t allow for blaming some unnamed forces in the dark that are doing some kind of misleading to which politicians fall prey. 2) Thanks for the great quote from Milliband. In his piece, he seems to argue that the war metaphor was the wrong one and he gives te impications of the metaphor as the reason. Your comment after the quote is great. From this, I gather, that it is not the language that somehow misled politicians but those who choose to use/ accept this kind of frame for the situation. But moreover, the problem is not that the language didn’t reflect the “real” situation properly (who could say what that real situation was like?) but that this choice (!) of words had far reaching policy implications (as Milliband outlines) and consequences.

Aldo Matteucci March 26, 2013

Bi, (1) any psychologist will tell you: we churn out "self-affirmation stories" by the ream. We fabulate all the time in order to reassure ourselves, and others, about how we "are in control". Timothy D. Wilson: Strangers to ourselves will tell you: the conscious mind is more likely to be person's "press secretary" than its CEO (pg. 47). So "misleading ourselves" (and others) is the order of the day. (2) In my 220 I pointed out the difference between "raid" and "war". 9/11, for all its destructiveness, belonged to the category of "raids". It could not have brought about the Caliphate, even though Al Queda may have dreamed of it (it is uncertain). Mistaking a raid for a war has deep political consequences - which I highlight, so Millibrand is not wrong in saying that the wrong term was used. (3) In my 225 I point to our habit of substituting an easy for a difficult problem, and then arguing from analogy (Katharina - here I come with the danger of analogies). Please explain...

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