Quote: “It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East — Lebanon and Iraq — are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity. We will defeat the terrorists by strengthening young democracies across the broader Middle East.” President Bush in his weekly radio address.
Figure of Speech: the correlation implies causation fallacy, or cum hoc ergo propter hoc (“with this, therefore because of this”).
Lebanon and Iraq are building democracies, at least according to the president. Both nations are scenes of violent terrorist activity. Therefore terrorists attack because Lebanon and Iraq are nascent democracies. Bush commits a classic mistake: A happens at the same time as B, therefore A caused B. Most of the violence in Iraq is committed by warring sects, not al Qaeda-style terrorists. And Lebanon’s Hezbollah — whose rockets target Israelis, not fellow Lebanese — happens to be part of the country’s democratically elected government.
The bad logic ties Bush in a strange little knot. If democracies suffer the worst terrorism, then one might conclude that the best answer to terrorism is a dictatorship. Saddam Hussein would doubtless agree.
Figaro’s Rule: Bad logic leads to bad policies.
Snappy Answer: “Young democracies like Iran?”