Monday, June 30, 2008

Bill Kristol on Iraq - oh so wrong

Andrew Sullivan dug up a book that William Kristol wrote in 2002/2003, before the invasion of Iraq. Of course, he predicted an easy victory. Of course, he was spectacularly wrong. How wrong? Sullivan:
In fact, it would be very hard to think of a piece of analysis so riddled with misconceptions and errors and so self-evidently wrong in almost every respect only five years later.
He predicted that we might need as many as 75,000 troops at a cost of $16 billion a year. A year. Sullivan again, on how wrong Kristol was:
Kristol was off in his troops levels by a factor of two at the start of the occupation and by up to 20 today and he was off in his cost levels by a factor of ten. He also predicted "several thousand" troops by 2005, compared with 150,000 today.
What this brings up, obviously, is questions of accountability. Sullivan, who has done a great deal to admit his own mistakes and try to atone for them, has the moral authority to write this:
It seems to me that we demand accountability from our politicians and we should demand accountability from our intellectuals. Not that they always get things right - but that they give a full accounting when they are wrong. Instead we reward and celebrate those who not only get things wrong - Kristol and Rove now have prominent columns in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal - but those who have never taken personal responsibility for their own mistakes. Until we purge all these tendencies from Washington, we will not learn from history and we will keep repeating it.
The first element in holding these people accountable will be to hold their favorite politicians accountable. Kristol is still riding on Bush's coattails. He can still claim connection to the Bush White House. If and when Obama wins, he will naturally turn into the oppressed voice of the opposition. But it will be very easy to ridicule him if he tries that tactic. Bill Kristol, ultraprivileged straight white American male, voice of the oppressed? The satire will practically write itself.

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