hilzoy takes on Megan McArdle’s reaction, on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, to those of us who have criticized the reasoning of those (McArdle, f’rinstance) who supported the war in the first place.
I love the “heads-I-win, tails-you-lose” logic of McArdle and other such characters. When faced with the prospect of going to war, they were all rectitude and certainty. Now that everything they believed and argued has been proven false, we discover that the process of deciding is impossibly complicated. The “complex webs of interactions” producing success are impossible to trace out, you see, while failure is generally obvious. Donald Rumsfeld used the same dodge when chaos exploded in Iraq after the invasion. Remember how “messy” democracy turned out to be? “Stuff happens.” Who would have pegged Donald Rumsfeld as a relativist?
Maybe we’ve misunderstood the neocons and their enablers altogether. Here we were, watching a group of extremely aggressive, arrogant, self-confident bureaucratic infighters and veteran cold warriors embark on a war of choice. Yet all the time, hiding under those gruff exteriors were a bunch of Buddhist monks, meditating in carefully disguised serenity on the inherent randomness of life.
I don’t know about you, but I feel downright beatified by this new awareness.