Friday, September 17, 2004

Iraq and the Failure of the Intellectuals--Part 2

More and more people are coming out with explanations for why they got the war wrong. Here are two more. A disturbing and imp[ortant point raised by Nasi Lemak (or whatever his name is) concerns the implications for democracy.

But let us be clear where this gets us. Both Bush and Blair can go to war for reasons that turn out to be wrong and in pursuit of which they turn out to have at best systematically
exaggerated very patchy evidence. That war can turn out to be misguided strategically and mishandled tactically. Its consequence can be the systematic derangement of international institutions. It can turn from a war of liberation into a colonial war repressing nationalist insurgents (whom tradition dictates we call "terrorists"), while being a vivid recruiting tool for those who actually are terrorists. It can waste billions of pounds and tens of thousands of lives and leave the world worse off in pretty much every way. Despite all this the two major proponents of the war can have a fighting chance of re-election. In particular it's now difficult for me to see why any US administration should care about the consequences of its foreign policy.

While I'm deeply ashamed to have been on the wrong side of the debate about the war in advance, turning out to be wrong has rather shattered my faith in the effectiveness of democratic feedback as a useful (realist?) constraint on policy-making.

Nicely put.

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