Friday, December 29, 2006

Writers who got Iraq right, Episode #2

Before the Iraq War began, New York Times columnist and Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman was one of the few voices in the major media opinion pages openly arguing that the Bush administration had failed to meet the burden of proof required to justify an attack on Iraq. He argued a glance at the history of the administration would show that, even when the "war" was swiftly won, the aftermath would be costly in matters of both blood and treasure.

For this foresight, he was called "deranged" one the pages of a competing, national newspaper. He was called shrill, gnome-like, disgusting by right wing bloggers. He was threatened with bodily harm in the landslide of hate mail driven by attacks from Bill O'Reilly and others. The National Review even instituted an on-line column dedicated to "debunking" Krugman's arguments.

If his status as Right Wing Target Number One is any indication, he clearly scared the crap out of Bush supporters.

Unfortunately for them--and for our country--Krugman was inarguably right in his predictions about the war.

In this second episode of Nitpicker's attempt to look back and remember the writers who were right about Iraq before the war began, I spoke with Paul Krugman about Bush administration intimidation, the failure of the media to properly question the "evidence" about Iraq's WMDs and how, in the American media today, being consistently wrong is good for a writer's career.

As the interview begins, I point out that, while it's suggested that he opposed Bush simply for partisan reasons, he was clearly willing to be convinced that the war was the right thing to do.

While you're here, consider donating to Nitpicker's Fund Drive. I have big plans for the site and, more importantly, as a former military journalist, I intend to blog from Iraq in the coming year, providing audio, video and photos from the country. I can't do it without your help, though.

(For Episode 1 and more background on this series, see this post.)

Update: I was asked by an e-mailer if I would type up a transcript, but I'm really not interested in doing that. I will, however, provide one of the high points of the interview here, since I think it's important. In discussing the way in which being wrong about Iraq was a smart career move, Krugman said:
KRUGMAN: Now that almost everybody agrees that (Iraq's) a total disaster, to discuss what we do about the total disaster, you get a panel of two journalists who both were for the war and both spent three years saying the next six months would be crucial.
Meanwhile, as Krugman points out, a smart guy who was right about Iraq--Robert Scheer--was kicked to the curb, with Jonah "I'm certain I'd be against moral relativism if I knew for sure what it meant" Goldberg was installed in his place.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure it's cold comfort for Krugman to be right, but I hope that he remembers FDR's "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made." Not that it's particularly heartwarming either, mind.

I'm firmly convinced that, seeing the plainchant of denial coming out of the far right, that the rout of the neocons has begun. Memories being what they are, these eclipses only last about a generation, at best. (But it's a reprieve, at any rate, and I'll take it gratefully and try to make the best use of it.) A generation hence, I fully expect the US to be much weaker economically, and thus less able to afford a military that can depose governments (for good or ill) at will.

Sorry to sound so doom-and-gloom on a late Friday afternoon. It's just that I've read far, far too much history not to know the decay of an empire when I see one.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Darren7160 said...

I too was completely underwhelmed with the "evidence" presented... I was working with high school students in 2003 leading up to the war. I tried numerous times and ways to explain to them that Saddam would not have had anyting to do with 9/11 or terrorists who wanted to attack us.

Unfortunately, I was up against other teachers and the 5:00 news that couldn't analyize their way out of a paper sack.

I was absolutely sick as I watched the way the Fox news presented the small group of war protestors... Fox's people didn't have a clue as to the liberty and right of free speech that we were supposedly killing and being killed to give to Iraq.

Some of us, who have been denigrated and vilified for so long want an explicitly stated, no wavering or "yeah, but.." apology. Instead, what do we get? A piece by piece admission that comes out sounding like the neocons were right all along, it was just the American people who failed!

9:55 AM  
Blogger marc said...

the interview was cut off at 9:48 does it go on longer ?

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't youtube have a ten minute limit on media? An mp3 file would be more useful.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Zak44 said...

One person who was almost eerily prescient about the war was James Fallows in his pre-war piece in the Atlantic Monthly, "Iraq: The Fifty-first State?"

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

Great interview. I wish it was longer. Krugman amd Somerby are my 2 favorite people. I've even named my 2 PCs after them.

7:40 AM  

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