Monday, May 25, 2015

Debating History

Not yet facing a tribunal
Apparently New York Times columnists are not allowed to argue with each other,at least not by name. But columnist David Brooks and columnist Paul Krugman give a pretty good imitation when they handle the history of how the Iraq war got started in 2003.

For David Brooks on May 19, it was all an innocent mistake
Anybody conversant with the Robb-Silberman report from 2005 knows that this was a case of human fallibility.... The Iraq war error reminds us of the need for epistemological modesty. We don’t know much about the world, and much of our information is wrong. 
Paul Krugman on May 18?  Not so much:
Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on. Well, let’s not — because that’s a false narrative, and everyone who was involved in the debate over the war knows that it’s false. The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.
As others have pointed out, that Robb-Silverman report that Brooks relies on was specifically prevented from inquiring into "the use of intelligence by policy-makers" and the follow-up report that he didn't cite declared  the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.” 
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