A Credit Score for Pundits

Year after year – since 1998! – several times a week I have pointed out the mendacity, hypocrisy, and immorality of our foreign policy of global intervention, and I’m sure you’ll pardon me for complaining, but after a while a certain weariness sets in. How many times does it have to be proved that military means cannot solve socio-political questions? One might have thought we’d have learned after our stinging defeat in Vietnam – and, if not, then soon after we invaded and failed to pacify Iraq. And if we still didn’t absorb this much needed lesson, then perhaps the ongoing failure in Afghanistan might have given us a clue. 

But oh no: the people who run American foreign policy – our rulers – don’t recognize the concept of objective limits. They think they create reality, and not the other way around.  

The arrogance of America’s political class will be its ultimate undoing. Until that happy day arrives, however, we are in for a rather bumpy ride, and no one can predict where and how it will end. One can, however, make short-term prognostications, and their accuracy – or lack thereof – is the equivalent of a pundit’s credit rating, so to speak, an answer to the question: is this guy worth listening to?  

While there’s no analog to TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax in the world of commentators – and there ought to be – I can’t imagine that such an agency would give Antiwar.com anything less than 800 points, i.e. excellent. Not to toot our own horn too loudly, but we’ve been right about… well, everything.

We warned that Clinton’s Balkan wars would create a running sore disfiguring the face of Central Europe. One  has only to look at the "state" of Kosovo today, where Serbs are routinely killed and the remnants of their community are in a state of perpetual siege, to verify the accuracy of our prediction.

We said that the proper response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was to "kill ’em – and get out." Nearly a decade later, America is being sucked into the Afghan quicksands, fighting the longest war in our history, with fast-vanishing hope of "success."

Very early on, we reported to our readers what became apparent to the rest of the world after the "victory" in Iraq: that there were no "weapons of mass destruction" anywhere in Iraq, and that we had been lied into war. In this space, I predicted the invasion would lead to a prolonged occupation, that the "dead-enders" of Donald Rumsfeld’s Panglossian imagination would prove a persistent foe, and that when the dust cleared Iran would come out the chief beneficiary of it all.  

And so it came to pass

The result has been widespread skepticism in the face of our leaders’ proclamations that we must continue our rampage through Central Asia and the Middle East. It took a while, however: in the beginning, if you’ll recall, support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was broadly bipartisan and extended down to the man in the street. In the wake of 9/11, as news broadcasters wore flag buttons on their lapels and anyone who questioned our response as disproportionate was smeared as a terrorist sympathizer, only a tiny minority held out against the war hysteria.  

These dissidents – who were  given a platform on this web site, even as they were excluded from the "mainstream" media – have a credit rating of excellent-plus. Their predictions of impending disaster proved to be all too true: the irony is that it’s been so long since they were first made that virtually everyone has forgotten who was right and who was wrong about the most important issue of our times. That’s one of the reasons why the same old warmongers can continue to dominate the op ed pages of the nation’s newspapers, and enjoy credibility on the talking heads circuit. 

That may be changing, however, because the time lag between predictions of disaster and the actual disaster may be shortening. Just look at what happened this week in Iraq, where – less than a day after it was grandly announced that all combat troops had been pulled out, and our mission was reduced to the "advisory" level – nearly a hundred Iraqis associated with the security forces were gunned down in a series of coordinated attacks. 

At the time of the administration’s announcement, I wrote

"As to what they’ll do when the insurgency starts to rise again, not to worry: no one will notice but the soldiers in the field. Surely the American media won’t be so rude as to  point it out, unless the Green Zone goes up in flames and they have to evacuate stragglers by helicopter as they did in Vietnam. In that case, the visuals would be too good to pass up." 

But the media did indeed notice, if only because the ludicrousness of the administration’s pronouncement was so immediately apparent. When I wrote the above, last week, I assumed the time lag between my prediction and its fulfillment would be at least a matter of some months, instead of a few days.  

A building doesn’t usually fall down immediately due to bad workmanship: at first, small splits and seams begin to appear, hairline cracks that spread slowly but inexorably. As the fissures widen, over the years, and certain ominous creaking noises are heard, some may issue warnings, and yet these usually go unheeded: people, being creatures of habit, are prone to simply shake their heads and mutter "It’s always been this way." When the cracks widen to the point the building finally falls, however, it happens without much warning: a shift, a slide, and then down she goes in a cloud of dust. 

The crisis of American foreign policy – the crisis of the empire – is quickening, and huge cracks are beginning to split the edifice. As the distance widens between what the administration says is happening on the ground, and what is actually occurring – as in the case of our "withdrawal" from Iraq – our foreign policy is increasingly unsustainable in every sense.  

Something’s gotta give… 

Speaking of giving, have you given your contribution to our summer fundraising drive yet?  

Now that was a less than smooth transition, but heck, this fundraiser has been very much less than smooth going from the start. Of course, it’s close to the Labor Day weekend, and that is traditionally the slowest season for practically everything. People are on vacation, some are going back to school, and a good  number are outside barbecuing instead of sitting at their computer monitors reading up on the latest overseas shenanigans of the US government. We understand.  

What you have to understand, however, is that if we don’t make our fundraising goal – and we’re still some $10,000 short – we’ll have to seriously consider whether it’s possible to continue as a full-time operation. We pride ourselves on running the most comprehensive up-to-the-minute world news site on the Internets: we’re a real resource, no matter what view you take of US foreign policy, precisely because of this. Antiwar.com is part of a long-term project to educate the American people about what their government is doing abroad, and what is the non-interventionist alternative. That’s the only way we’re going to effect a real change in our disastrous foreign policy, but we can’t do it without your support.  

Please, if you’ve already given, consider upping your contribution. Because the world needs Antiwar.com – now more than ever.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].