Tag Archives: experts

Institute’s New Treatise on McCain’s Iraq Expertise Available on Tomdispatch.com

The Institute of Expertology is proud to announce that Tom Engelhardt has made a new article by Institute co-founders Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf the main feature on his blog, Tomdispatch.com, for May 29, 2008.  The article, entitled “McCain (Mis)Speaks: How the Senator Won the War of Words in Iraq (again and again and again…),” features the findings of a new Institute study designed to put (as Engelhardt phrases it) “Senator McCain’s particular brand of expertise in context.”  You can read it by clicking here.

 

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“Mission Accomplished!” is “shrewd, lucid, and tragically funny” – Huffington Post

Many thanks to The Huffington Post for last week’s stunning blurb about the Institute’s current compendium of authoritative misinformation concerning America’s military adventure in Iraq.  Here’s a reprint:

Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won The War In Iraq,” Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf’s shrewd, lucid and tragically funny compendium of ‘experts’ offering their (erroneous, comically misguided, and even outright false) thoughts on the Iraq war, has been a great hit since its release in late March. Still hovering near the top 100 on Amazon, it is destined to become one of the essential collections for those trying to remember how the Iraq fiasco came to be. Read an excerpt here. or buy the book here

Download the “Vodcast” of Cerf & Navasky’s Moyers Appearance

The Institute of Expertology is proud to announce that Institute executives Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky’s appearance on Bill Moyers’ Journal is now available as a video podcat (“vodcast”).  You can download it to your own computer by clicking here.

Many thanks from all of us at the Institute of Expertology to everyone at Bill Moyers’ Journal for making this vodcast available (and for having Victor and Chris on the show!).

“Mission Revisited”: The Columbia Journalism Review Weighs In

Mission Revisited

Pundits paved the way to “Mission Accomplished”

On May 1, 2003, President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and told the world: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.” The plans for securing and reconstructing weren’t so great, however, and we are five years down the road without a clear end in sight. On this anniversary, it seems worth remembering that part of the reason the president was not more strongly challenged on his assertions was a barrage of covering fire laid down by pundits. Here’s a sampler, from Mission Accomplished, a new Simon & Schuster paperback by Christopher Cerf, a writer and producer, and Victor Navasky, CJR’s chairman.

We expect every American to support our military, and if they can’t do that, to shut up. Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is under way will be considered enemies of the state by me. –Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Channel, February 26, 2003

The man who slept through many classes at Yale and partied the nights away stands revealed as a profound and great leader who will reshape the world for the better. The United States is lucky once again. –Mona Charen, syndicated columnist, March 23, 2003

The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war. –Fred Barnes, editor, The Weekly Standard, on Fox News, April 10, 2003

Every step of the way, they were lecturing us on how it wasn’t well thought out…we didn’t have enough troops there, it was going to be a quagmire. All of these thousands, according to naysayers, of troops are going to die….They’ve…made fools of themselves. –Sean Hannity, Hannity & Colmes, April 10, 2003

Coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics’ complaints. –Tony Snow, host of Fox News Sunday, April 13, 2003

The United States [has] committed itself…to reshaping the Middle East, so the region [will] no longer be a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, anti-Americanism, and weapons of mass destruction….the first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably. –William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, April 28, 2003

The war was so successful, [its critics] don’t have any arguments left….The biggest mishap liberals can seize on is that some figurines from an Iraqi museum were broken-a relief to college students everywhere who have ever been forced to gaze upon Mesopotamia pottery. –Ann Coulter, syndicated columnist, April 30, 2003

It ended quickly with few civilian casualties and with little damage to Iraq’s cities, towns, or infrastructure….It ended without the quagmire [war critics] predicted….Iraqis are freer today and we are safer. Relax and enjoy it. –Richard Perle, member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, in USA Today, May 1, 2003

CJR

About “Mission Accomplished!”


Mission Accomplished! (or How We Won the War in Iraq) is the definitive collection — systematically categorized, indexed, and footnoted for your convenience — of authoritative misinformation, disinformation, misunderstanding, miscalculation, egregious prognostication, boo-boos, and just plain lies, about the Iraq War.

“Never before has such a large and diverse group of experts been so unanimously in favor of a particular national policy as they were in the case of the U.S. invasion of Iraq,” note Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, who, as co-founders of the Institute of Expertology, the nation’s leading purveyor of expertise on expertise, were uniquely qualified to assemble this impressive collection. “In the face of such a consensus, we had no choice but to ask ourselves, ‘Could the iron law of expertology — the experts are never right — be wrong?'”

At once an entertainment, a cautionary tale, a critique of mass media, a reference tool, and a postwar manifesto, Mission Accomplished! presents, as no book has before, the collective wisdom of all those who are presumed to know what they talking about on the subject of America’s adventure in Iraq. As this hilarious, yet depressing, volume demonstrates, they don’t.

From MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

— President George W. Bush, May 2, 2003

“[Insurgents] pose no strategic threat to the United States or to the Coalition Forces.”

— L. Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, November 17, 2003

“Military action will not last more than a week.”

— Bill O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor, January 23, 2003

“I couldn’t imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah.”

— President George W. Bush, at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, December 10, 2001 

 

Laura Flanders Discusses “Mission Accomplished!” with Navasky and Cerf on “RadioNation”

Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf were interviewed about the Institute of Expertology, and their new book “Mission Accomplished!” on the March 29-30 edition of “RadioNation,” hosted by Laura Flanders, and broadcast on Air America. You can hear the interview here

“Mission Accomplished!” Op-Ed by Cerf and Navasky in LA Times Marks 5th Anniversary of Iraq Invasion

A surge in Iraq gasbags

The experts all agree about the war’s success, but does anyone else agree with them?

By Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky

March 19, 2008

With the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq upon us, it seems to be generally agreed by most experts that the “surge” is working, that despite continuing casualties, we have at last reached a “turning point.” This is certainly the view of George W. (“Mission accomplished!”) Bush, Donald (“Stuff happens”) Rumsfeld, Dick (“The streets of Baghdad are sure to erupt with joy”) Cheney, Bill (“Military action will not last more than a week”) O’Reilly and Condoleezza (“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”) Rice.

But the above are all partisan voices. As far as we are aware — and, as founders of the Institute of Expertology, we are experts on the matter — until now no impartial institution has undertaken a comprehensive survey of experts on the war in Iraq. Therefore, our institute has taken it on itself to conduct such an inquiry.

For those who may have been too young to see, or are too old to remember, our original study, “The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation” (1984), we recall that notwithstanding the best efforts of our worldwide cadre of researchers, we were unable to identify a single expert who was right.

At the time, despite those findings, our scholarly integrity compelled us to concede the statistical probability that, in theory, the experts might be right as much as half the time. It was simply that we hadn’t found any.

Our new study of the Iraq war, titled “Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq,” is a different matter. We can state without fear of contradiction that never before in the history of institute surveys has there been such a dramatic consensus among experts — those who, by virtue of official status, academic standing, formal title, mastery of jargon and/or number of publications, are presumed to know what they are talking about.

They all seemed to agree that: 

* The link between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks was (to quote New York Times columnist William Safire) an “undisputed fact.”

* Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. (“Only a fool, or possibly a Frenchman, would think otherwise”: Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.)

* The cost of war would be cheap at the price. (“We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction”: then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.)

* The U.N.’s chief weapons inspector was unreliable. (Hans Blix “couldn’t find the stretch marks on Rosie O’Donnell”: Laura Ingraham, syndicated radio host.)

* Torture is justifiable. (“Reasonable people will disagree about when torture is justified”: John C. Yoo, then-deputy assistant attorney general.)

* Abu Ghraib was not all that bad. (Abu Ghraib “is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation”: Rush Limbaugh.)

* The U.S. won the war within weeks. (“The only people who think this wasn’t a victory are Upper West Side liberals and a few people here in Washington”: Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist.)

Although there were differences, the Great Consensus was bipartisan. Sen. John McCain (who said before the fact that “the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators”) observed in September 2003 that “the next three to six months are critical.”

Three months later, Sen. Hillary Clinton (who before the invasion had said that Hussein “will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons”) insisted that “the next six to seven months are critical.”

Barack Obama partisans may try to argue that the Illinois senator did not share in the consensus, but he lacked any foreign policy experience and therefore does not qualify as an expert and is excluded from our study.

Nevertheless, as scrupulous scholars, we concede that there was and is a small group of dissenters from the Great Consensus, but they are for the most part ordinary citizens or extreme left- (and far right-) wingers who don’t really count. Besides, they would only pollute our sample.

Finally, although the institute expresses no opinion of its own on the matter, we feel it is incumbent on us to note apropos the “surge” that there is ample precedent for the “turning point” thesis mentioned above:

* July 7, 2003: “This month will be a political turning point for Iraq.” (Douglas J. Feith, then-undersecretary for Defense.)

* June 16, 2004: “A turning point will come two weeks from today.” (President Bush.)

* Feb. 2, 2005: “On Jan. 30 in Iraq, the world witnessed … a moment that historians might one day call a turning point.” (Donald Rumsfeld, then-U.S. secretary of Defense.)

* June 14, 2006: “I think — tide turning — see, as I remember — I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of — it’s easy to see a tide turn — did I say those words?” ( Bush.)

We trust that the above abstract of our findings will convince any reasonable person that our study was as rigorous, systematic and serious as were the experts themselves.

Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky are the authors of Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq: The Experts Speak, from which this was adapted.