Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Harvard and Myths

John Kenneth Galbraith was the chair of the economics department at Harvard for 30 years. He carried himself with an arrogance that would put Joe Biden to shame. The measure of any theory, or theoretician, is how successfully predictive he is. Galbraith got every prediction he ever made wrong. In one colossal blunder in 1983 he predicted that it was only a matter of time until the Soviet economy overtook ours. Of course 6 years later the Soviet economy and the nation itself collapsed. Only at Harvard can someone be wrong repeatedly, and at the same time be a celebrated department head. Cambridge really is in a fantasy world. Those fantasies continue today.

Last night I watched Marvin Kalb ( Emeritus Senior Fellow, Harvard University) interview Bill O'Reilly. I was once again reminded why Bill Buckley said “I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." He was right. An ounce of common sense (the 400 phone book names) will outweigh a ton of intelligence (Harvard faculty) every time.

Kalb asked O'Reilly why he had supported the invasion in Iraq. The answer given was because he thought there were weapons of mass destruction that could be used against us, particularly if they were given to terrorists. When asked what made him so sure the weapons were there, O'Reilly said because of our intelligence reports. Kalb then asked how he knew the reports were genuine, and had he ever considered that he may have been lied to. Between the question itself and the visceral anger on Kalb's face, it was obvious what he thought.

Think about this. Kalb is an supposed to be an intelligent man, teaching at one of the worlds most prestigious universities. Yet he is buying into a myth that any half thoughtful cockatoo would understand was a fiction. Why am I not surprised? The most interesting part was the anger on Kalb's face. I hate to assign motives, but I wonder if it was a dramatic touch intended to add authenticity to a false charge, or if he really is that ignorant.

Every intelligence agency in the world, many through independent investigations and independent evidence, drew the same conclusion- Saddam had the weapons. We know he had them at one point. After the Gulf War the inspectors found them. He used them in the Iraq Iran War and on his own people. Were all the intelligence agencies lying? Were they all in a conspiracy? Almost every member of congress, at least those with the requisite security clearance, examined the intelligence reports and drew the same conclusion. The point is there is virtually no evidence the administration lied, save some conspiracy theorists nonsense, but there are mounds of evidence that a reasonable conclusion was drawn, albeit a wrong one.

Common sense itself, something sorely lacking in the hallowed halls of our universities, made any other conclusion hard to imagine. Why would Saddam throw the inspectors out? What was he protecting if he had nothing to hide? His pride may have been an obstacle, but he was a realist, and injuring his pride versus losing his kingdom and his life doesn't seem like a hard call. That and other questions remain unanswered today.

Let me bore you for a second with my personal theory as to why Saddam acted as he did. Why would he not yield to the demands that the inspectors be let back in? Certainly Bush made the consequences very clear. Did he think it was an idle threat? I doubt it. Did he think he could win a war? I doubt that even more. Probably the most corrupt organization in the world is the United Nations (the organization Obama will cede decision making to over US foreign policy). Prior to the invasion the UN was engaged in its typical day to day bribery and corruption, partnering with Saddam in what became know as the oil for food scandal. There were business people, and British, French and Russian political figures and journalists, "dipping their beak" into Saddam's well. Take note of where the favorable press and political support he received during the lead up to the war came from. I believe he may have received assurances from those political people involved in his web of bribery that they could control the United States. If so, it was a tragic error. I realize this could be miles off the mark, but it does rationalize an otherwise very strange set of facts.

But I digress. "Bush lied, kids died" (not exactly Shelly or Keats) was the mantra of many anti-war activists at our elite universities. The myth of having been lied to has gained currency among most liberals, even though it defies logic. Constant repetition will never change the facts, but it might change the historical record. In a generation or two the history books could easily state this myth as fact. Those of you who know the real history of FDR, Augusto Pinochet, Alger Hiss and Joe McCarthy understand what I mean.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...