Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Extra G Is For Extra WronG

And speaking of Gregg Easterbrook (think Mickey Kaus if Mickey had a creepy obsession with cheerleaders and engaged in unbelievably pretentious NFL analysis), he recently dropped some knowledge in the midst of his unceasing wankery football column:

Bush declared a crisis of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and asked Congress for extraordinary powers to invade a nation that did not appear to pose any threat to the United States ... Presidents love to cry crisis and then ask for extra power and extra money outside normal channels of accountability.

Gregggg is making the fairly obvious point that emergency powers tend to beget emergencies, only he's saying it in his patented insufferable elitist "if only everyone listened to the Brookings Institution" voice. But it got me to thinking: I wonder what Greggggggg thought of the Iraq war at the time?

Unless Saddam leaves Iraq, I vote for attack. Between dramatic improvements in U.S. bombing accuracy and tactics since the Gulf War and the disrepair of Iraqi ground forces, fighting should be relatively brief. I realize people have said that on the eves of wars before and been ruinously wrong.

I see the possibilities of a U.S. attack this way:

  • A 25 percent chance of fiasco.
  • A 25 percent chance of inconclusive result—say, Saddam is deposed just as U.S. units cross the border, we withdraw, and the new guy is just as bad.
  • A 25 percent chance of a better world—Iraq disarmed, regional tensions lowered, Iraqi-terrorist connections ended, and a better life for the people of Iraq.
  • A 25 percent chance of a magnificent result—Iraq becomes a democracy and leads the Arab world into freedom, history ultimately viewing this American action as the third great United States liberation after the liberations of Germany and Japan.

That's two positive prospects, one neutral, and one negative, so I think we should try. But of course this is easy for me to say because I will not get shot at, nor run any risk that my family will be hit by a malfunctioning U.S. bomb.

I quote it in its entirety, because it's just so perfect.

a) Look at those percentages! Nate Silver, eat your heart out.
b) "You know these odds I've assigned arbitrarily? They say we should do it. You can't argue with math!"
c) You know why the Gregggggggs of the world resent elected government? Because our retarded center-right think tanks ("25% chance of Tom Friedman's wet dream coming true!") are the only things that make our failure of a democracy look good.
d) This is kind of unfair, as it's not like Greg^25 would ever mock anyone else's terrible predictions. And it's certainly not as if TMQ is one long example of using after-the-fact analysis to pretend that everything that happened was obvious all along ...

I have to say, the one saving grace about his football writing (now comprising between 8% and 10% of his football columns) is that he's not some ridiculous talking head, shaping and re-shaping every event to fit his narrative, and he actually analyzes the game from an objective, level-headed perspective. Oh, wait.

TMQ's Motto: All Predictions Wrong or Your Money Back

You don't say.