Tag Archives: Krauthammer

Thanks, Brooke Allen!

Brooke Allen is the author of Twentieth-Century Attitudes: Literary Powers in Uncertain Times, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, so she certainly qualifies as a meta-expert, and the Institute of Expertology would have been proud to welcome her to full membership even if she hadn’t just written a glowing review of our recent publication, Mission Accomplished! (or How We Won the War in Iraq. But, it turns out, she has written such a review and it appears in the May 26, 2008 edition of B&N Review. We encourage you to read it (below), and to join us in as we proudly welcome Ms. Allen to our organization.

 

Reader’s Diary, by Brooke Allen

What were we thinking? Five years after the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a hung-over America surveys the damage and wonders just how it got into this mess, while the very same politicians, journalists, and “experts” who sold us the war are now busy disclaiming all responsibility. In their marvelously (if grimly) amusing new book, Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq (Simon & Schuster Paperbacks), Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky have collected a chapbook of priceless quotations from the warmongers — including “the highest government officials, diplomats, Cabinet officers, four-star generals, big-foot pundits, prize-winning Middle East scholars, top think-tank strategists, the leadership of the Central Intelligence Agency, and such” — that predicted instant victory, a new world order, and liberty and oil for all.

This book has now superseded that old standby The World’s Stupidest Criminals as my favorite bathroom reading. Here, for example, is Laura Ingraham on UN arms inspector Hans Blix: “He couldn’t find a stretch-mark on Rosie O’Donnell.” And Alan Foley of the CIA: “If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so.” Charles Krauthammer’s 2003 claim that “the only people who think this wasn’t a victory are Upper West Side liberals, and a few people here in Washington” was echoed by General Tommy Franks — who of all people should have known better — a year later, when he said that “history will record” Operation Iraqi Freedom as “unequalled in excellence by anything in the annals of war.” John Yoo, Condi Rice, Christopher Hitchens, Alberto Gonzales, and of course Dubya himself (“No president has done more for human rights than I have”): all the biggies are here, trapped now in their own sticky web.

 

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“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.