Aug 20, 2010

The Iraq War revisited

Matthew Yglesias takes a look back to 2002 as to why he was wrong about the war. He comes up with four sober reasons: erroneous foreign policy views, elite signaling, misreading the politics, and The Threatening Storm. He adds:
You can, however, always get more psychological. I was 21 years old and kind of a jerk. Being for the war was a way to simultaneously be a free-thinking dissident in the context of a college campus and also be on the side of the country’s power elite. My observation is that this kind of fake-dissident posture is one that always has a lot of appeal to people. The point is that this wasn’t really a series of erroneous judgments about Iraq, it was a series of erroneous judgments about how to think about the world and who deserves to be taken seriously and under which circumstances.
I still am stunned that fairly intelligent people like he and Ezra Klein were taken in by such hokum. But it's good of Yglesias to examine his past reasoning and try to learn from it. Though a lot of liberals would have him drummed out of the party for such an error, I'm willing to forgive. He was only twenty-one, for Pete's sake (Klein was only nineteen).

What's more, the reasons I opposed the war back then had very little to do with any recognizable thought process. I hated Bush and so did most of my friends, and trusted him about as far as I could throw him. An extremely wise position, as it turns out, but something of a coincidence. My parents had more reasonable arguments, but I don't think they influenced me much.

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