Tag Archives: lies

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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“Neoconceit and the Iraq Debacle”

Professor Daniel Martin Varisco of Hofstra University recently posted this article about Mission Accomplished! (or How We Won the War in Iraq) on Tabsir.net.

By now all but the most ardent of Bush administration admirers must face the obvious: the mission in Iraq was never accomplished, only botched. Historians and pundits will devote tomes upon tomes in assessing one of the most egregious blunders in American foreign policy. But it is not that difficult to see how it happened. Take a horrific tragedy (9/11), a convenient scapegoat (Muslim extremists), a personal grudge (Saddam surviving the first Gulf War and bragging about it), ideological nitwits (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, and the list goes on), a bottom line (oil supply), a fear factor (WMDs) and outright lies. Much of the evidence for the Iraq Debacle survives on videotape. Now Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky have documented what the “experts” bungled in their recent Mission Accomplished or How We Won the War in Iraq: The Experts Speak (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008).

Cerf and Navasky operate out of The Institute of Expertology, an outside the Beltway anti-think tank that reveals that most would-be intellectual emperors have no clothes, and many of these stand stark naked without shame, even after being exposed. The case for the prosecution is both cute (without having to change a word of the neocon experts) and acute, as the architects of the Bush Iraq Debacle walk the planks they themselves imagined out of hot air. Here is a sampling of the neoconceit anti-principles that got us into this mess:

• They will treat us like liberators.

“My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003 [Well, Dick, you should have stuck to duck hunting, since we never stopped being regarded as occupiers. Our troops were, in fact, greeted with IEDs and sniper fire.]

• It’ll be over in a jiffy.

“It is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks, six months.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, February 7, 2003. [Hey, Rummy, you forgot the six years part. But the numbers you did give add up to 666, and you should know what a beastly number that is. Or, did you mean “farce” rather than “force”.]

• They sell WMDs in the corner deli.

“[Saddam’s] facilities are mobile; they have been widely dispersed to a number of locations; [he has] vast underground networks and facilities, and sophisticated denial and deception techniques.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, September 27, 2002. [The mobile units turned out to be nothing but hot air, literally helium tanks for weather balloons, and the deception of Saddam’s WMD program was so good that six years later no nukes have been found. If they really did have Nigerian yellow cake, they must have eaten it. Did anyone do a stool test on Chemical Ali?]

• When in doubt, blame Saddam.

“The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself.” President George W. Bush, January 29, 2003. [In hindsight I suppose we could say that “The war on terror involves George W. Bush because of the nature of George W. Bush, the history of George W. Bush, and his willingness to terrorize just about anyone who does not agree with him.”]

• The minimalist approach to war.

“I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators, and that they will help us keep [troop] requirements down… We can say with reasonable confidence the the notion of hundreds of thousands of American troops is way off the mark … wildly off the mark.” [Wolfie, we can see with total confidence, because it happened already, that the only thing wildly off the mark was your estimate.]

• Casualties, did you say casualties?

“Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.” George W. Bush in a response attributed to him by Rev. Pat Robertson, when Robertson warned the President to prepare the nation for “heavy casualties” in the event of an Iraq War, March, 2003. [Did you get this idea straight from your “higher father” or was the devil in the details?]

• Osama who? Is that the guy the Dems are nominating?

“I don’t know where he [Osama Bin Laden] is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him… Truly I am not that concerned about him.” George W. Bush, March 13, 2002. [Hell, if you’ve seen one terrorist, you’ve seen ‘em all. So can we take down that “Wanted” Dead or Alive” poster yet?]

After their exhaustive search of accomplished pronouncements about the mission that was and still is and should never have been, Cerf and Navasky conclude:

“But after having completed our in-depth study and analysis of five years of expert commentary on the Iraq War, despite the near-unanimity and the high status and IQ of our subjects, we now must allow for the possibility that (with one exception, discussed below), the experts all got it wrong… The fact that the Iraq experts all agreed with each other should have been the tip-off.”

For an interview of the authors with Bill Moyers, click here.

Daniel Martin Varisco

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.