Dreaming Of Heaven Creates Hell
The first-rate minds of so many liberal hawks, such as George Packer, were so moved by Iraqi exile Kanan Makiya's plea to liberate Iraq from the grip of Saddam Hussein that they became fervent supporters of Bush/Iraq. In a new profile of Makiya, we are provided a taste of this extraordinary man's thinking, overflowing with profound insights and aspirations for precisely the kind of better world the liberal hawks know is within America's reach - and right - to create:
...even if the Iraqis were not ready, Makiya argued, the regime in Baghdad was so wrecked that destroying it was worth the gamble anyway. “I think there’s a less than 5 percent chance that what I’d like to see happen actually happens,” Makiya told The Boston Globe in the autumn of 2002. “But it seems to me an obligation, even if it’s a 5 percent chance, to try to make it happen. You could call it a triumph of hope over experience. But what else is politics if not that?”Two points.
...Makiya says, the question — would we be [right to invade Iraq today] if we had known? — isn’t valid, for the simple reason that we did not know how things were going to turn out. So, he said, there is no point in wishing that we could go back and change our minds: “Nothing was inevitable. People made choices. Everything was in flux. It could have gone so many different ways.
First, let's zero in on that 5%. That means there's a 95% chance that Iraq would turn out like...well, like in fact it has. But what does that mean, 5%? Let's put it this way, nice and personal:
Your doctor tells you that if you choose to undertake some expensive and dangerous elective surgery, there is a 5% chance things will go well. There is, however, a 95% chance you will end up so neurologically damaged that you will be in constant pain for the next fifty years, with a damaged immune system, hemorrhaging copious amounts of blood on a regular basis, and horribly deformed. Furthermore, your personality could become so transformed into something so sadistically loathsome that even your closest relatives want nothing more to do with you.
Here's the kicker: The doctor says the odds are worth the risk. And here's the punchline: You take his advice because other surgeons also think the operation is a good idea for reasons you're not too clear about. And guess what? Incredibly, you don't beat the odds and are left damaged in body and mind, beyond any hope of imminent relief.
That was Point One. Here's Point Two:
Five percent was naively optimistic on Makiya's part. The chance of "success" in Iraq - measured any responsible way you care to - was closer to .00000000000000000000005%.
In other words, the ghastly disaster of Bush/Iraq was inevitable. And the only choice that would have made a difference was never to have invaded in the first place and use other means, such as coerced inspections, to confront the Saddamist regime.
There is so much more of Makiya's unique reality-based opinions for Iraq and the world, a preview of the book he is writing (I can't wait!). Please read the entire article to learn how a truly first-rate mind thinks. Learn that Makiya really thought that Chalabi was Iraq's Mandela. And learn that realists are always right, even when they're morally wrong.
Holy Deepak Chopra, Batman! Now there's first-rate thinking.
[Updated slightly after original posting.]