Saturday, November 15, 2008

The End of the Experts?

NYTimesSE | The sudden outbreak of peace in Iraq has made me realize, among other things, one incontestable fact: I have no business holding a pen, at least with intent to write. I know, you’re thinking I’m going too far. I haven’t always been wrong about everything. I recently made some sense on global warming and what we needed to do about it, for instance.

But to have been so completely and fundamentally wrong about so huge a disaster as what we have done to Iraq — and ourselves — is outrageous enough to prove that people like me have no business posing as wise men, and, more importantly, that The New York Times has no business continuing to provide me with a national platform.

In any case, I have made a decision: as of today, I will no longer write in this or any other newspaper. I will immediately desist from writing any more books about how it’s time for everyone to climb on board the globalization high-speed monorail to the future. I will keep my opinions to myself. (My wife suggested that I try not to even form opinions, but I think she might have another agenda.)

Baffled? I don’t blame you. So I’ll cite some facts to support my decision — a practice, I must admit, I have too seldom followed.

Let’s start with the invasion itself. I was pretty much all for it. Mind you, I was not one of the pundits, reporters, or public figures who said that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States. I knew better — but I said it didn’t matter!

Back in February of 2003, I wrote in this space: “Saddam does not threaten us today. He can be deterred. Taking him out is a war of choice — but it’s a legitimate choice.” In other words, we should invade a sovereign state and replace its government in order to remake the world more to our liking.

Now the simple fact is, an unprovoked attack on a sovereign state is a war crime, even when linked to grand ideas of the future of mankind. In fact, that’s exactly what Hitler did, for exactly the same reasons. The Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal called it the “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

What was I thinking? And more importantly, why didn’t anyone stop me?