Tag Archives: Navasky

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This book has now superseded that old standby The World’s Stupidest Criminals as my favorite bathroom reading.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.



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.


“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

“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

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 Accomplished! Is Featured on Bill Moyers’ Journal

On the evening of May 2 on PBS, Bill Moyers presented a major feature on Iraq misinformation, the Institute of Expertology, and Victor Navasky and Chris Cerf’s new book, Mission Accomplished! (or How We Won the War in Iraq).  A highlight of the segment was a collection of video clips, narrated by Moyers, showing the “experts” quoted in the book actually mouthing some of their most egregious quotes.  Navasky and Cerf were on hand to provide expert (er, meta-expert) commentary.  You can watch all this, and gain access to many other related features, by clicking here.

“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