Despite some pundits claiming that we should let bygones be bygones when it comes to fail Iraq punditry and policy, Reed Richardson lays out why we need to remember who got it right and who got it wrong:
One measure of the health of a nation’s discourse is how well it holds accountable its political and thought leaders. Do the men and women with a track record of getting things stupendously wrong ever have to face the music for their words and deeds? Do their arguments and opinions correspondingly suffer in the marketplace of ideas? Or do these same people keep getting free passes despite the sorrow they’ve sown? And do they continue to enjoy broad acceptance as serious, legitimate thinkers despite plenty of evidence to the contrary?
Unfortunately, we’re not so healthy:
A brief survey of the US establishment press over the past few weeks is all it takes to get a clear answer on just how sclerotic, insular, and narrow-minded our country’s foreign policy discussions are. Ever since the ISIS-fueled insurgency started an unraveling of northern Iraq, mainstream news organizations have dredged up almost every neoconservative pundit and old Bush foreign policy hand still alive to pontificate on how Obama should fix, or has caused, this crisis. A crisis that, ironically, they helped to foment through an unnecessary, decade-long war based on false intelligence. Indeed, it has been mystifying, if not somewhat unsurprising, to watch how quickly the Beltway media has blithely rehabilitated the reputations of those responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis.
The past week, in particular, has felt like 2002 déjà vu. So many of the same old neocon faces marching to the same saber-rattling beat on the same news shows. The experience is almost reminiscent of those old, late-night K-Tel commercials selling compilation albums of songs by bands long since forgotten, and for good reason. I say almost because those commercials offered more historical context than most of the mainstream press does for these Iraq War neocons. After all, when was the last time you heard a talk show host or op-ed columnist even mention that Dick Cheney, Bill Kristol, and Paul Wolfowitz brought us such classic lines as “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators,” “This is going to be a two-month war, not an eight-year war,” and, my personal favorite: “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.”
This seems relevant:
The Late Roman Empire was not designed to be an efficient government, but to keep the emperor in power and to benefit the members of the administration. Many of these could enjoy highly successful careers by the standards of the day without ever being effective in the role that they were theoretically supposed to perform. Sheer size prevented rapid collapse or catastrophe. Its weakness was not obvious, but this only meant that collapse could come in sudden, dramatic stages, such as the loss of the African provinces to the Vandals. Gradually, the empire’s institutions rotted and became less and less capable of dealing with any crisis, but still did not face serious competition. Lost wars were damaging, but the damage was not fatal to the empire itself….
…Long decline was the fate of the Roman Empire. In the end, it may well have been ‘murdered’ by barbarian invaders, but these struck at a body made vulnerable by prolonged decay.
If nothing else, we should install a new crop of bozos to screw things up.
Just how much ruin is there in our nation?
It’s incredible the public so often falls for the “don’t look back” idea. (It’s not particularly surprising that people try to get them to fall for it, and money talks.) Most people would have no problem with the notion that if you, for instance, opened an ice cream stand you’d check to see what flavors sold best and make sure to have more of the best sellers and less of the poor sellers, and not reorder that weird flavor that it turns out no one has ever bought. But they don’t do it with these pundits/lobbyists/politicians/etc. who were wrong.
Certainly it’s harder because our news media is not doing the job they should (that money talking) but even accounting for that there’s an element of the problem that’s squarely on the shoulders of the American public.