Monday, March 18, 2013

A Must Read Column from Paul Krugman

Well, at least the first half of an NYT column. He writes:
Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack. 
Some voices warned that we were making a terrible mistake — that the case for war was weak and possibly fraudulent, and that far from yielding the promised easy victory, the venture was all too likely to end in costly grief. And those warnings were, of course, right.

There were, it turned out, no weapons of mass destruction; it was obvious in retrospect that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war. And the war — having cost thousands of American lives and scores of thousands of Iraqi lives, having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted — left America weaker, not stronger, and ended up creating an Iraqi regime that is closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.

So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it.

The really striking thing, during the run-up to the war, was the illusion of consensus. To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents — but they were out of the mainstream.

The trouble with this argument is that it was and is circular: support for the war became part of the definition of what it meant to hold a mainstream opinion. Anyone who dissented, no matter how qualified, was ipso facto labeled as unworthy of consideration. This was true in political circles; it was equally true of much of the press, which effectively took sides and joined the war party.

CNN’s Howard Kurtz, who was at The Washington Post at the time, recently wrote about how this process worked, how skeptical reporting, no matter how solid, was discouraged and rejected. “Pieces questioning the evidence or rationale for war,” he wrote, “were frequently buried, minimized or spiked.”

Closely associated with this taking of sides was an exaggerated and inappropriate reverence for authority. Only people in positions of power were considered worthy of respect. Mr. Kurtz tells us, for example, that The Post killed a piece on war doubts by its own senior defense reporter on the grounds that it relied on retired military officials and outside experts — “in other words, those with sufficient independence to question the rationale for war.” 

After this point in the column, Krugman switches to economics, specifically the deficit, and it is all down hill, but he is good on the Iraq war. The full column is here.


  1. Same goes for Keynesian economics when the Austrians are warning about what's coming.

  2. With all that government war spending, you would think the economy would be booming by now.

  3. Krugman switches to economics, where he admits that he has opponents but marginalizes them as being outside of the mainstream.

  4. "having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted — left America weaker, "

    Why? Hasn't the war spending been good for the economy in Krugman's view?

  5. Two words missing in Krugman's article are "Ron" and "Pail", followed closely by the phrase "was right".

    1. Good old Ron Pail - don't you just hate it when that happens... ;-)

  6. Krugman switches to economics, where he proves he's incapable of grasping concepts a six year old can master.

  7. The military industrial complex, Private Equity(Carlyle Group esp. with ex. Pres. Bush others on payroll), and needing a new cause for a military less in need post Soviet Union Fall drove Iraq, and global militarism then and today.

  8. Interesting add, Paul Wolfowitz discusses Iraq war 10 Years On No apology for being a key driver(along with PNAC in 1990's). If I was able to question the need for a full scale war at that time, and the consequences in terms of loss of life, expense, and now postwar care for life of those that served and were injured, I can assure you those that drove it had to know similarly. The evidence was so flimsy a child of two could have questioned and seen through it. Further, if they wanted Saddam out, all that was required was a surgical strike force(but that is not what was wanted, as would not feed the military-industrial growth curve) The U.S. went down the road to global imperialism at that point, and in 2008 under Bernanke the U.S. went down Economic imperialism, both of which will end very badly.

  9. The thing is that it's political prudent to adopt the position that he is taking there. He has something to gain from it, and nothing to gain about being honest about economics.

    This is just another case of him having vested interests in the process and position he is promoting. Krugman is a rent-seeker plain and simple. Just like all rent-seekers they are politicians first, and honest professionals second.