"Never before has such a large and diverse group of experts been so unanimously in favor of a particular national policy as they were in the case of the U.S. invasion of Iraq," note Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, who, as co-founders of the Institute of Expertology, the nation's leading purveyor of expertise on expertise, were uniquely qualified to assemble this impressive collection. "In the face of such a consensus, we had no choice but to ask ourselves, 'Could the iron law of expertology the experts are never right be wrong?'"
At once an entertainment, a cautionary tale, a critique of mass media, a reference tool, and a postwar manifesto, Mission Accomplished! presents, as no book has before, the collective wisdom of all those who are presumed to know what they talking about on the subject of America's adventure in Iraq. As this hilarious, yet depressing, volume demonstrates, they don't.
From MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
President George W. Bush, May 1, 2003
"[Insurgents] pose no strategic threat to the United States or to the Coalition Forces."
L. Paul Bremer III, Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, November 17, 2003
"Military action will not last more than a week."
Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, January 23, 2003
"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah."
President George W. Bush, at a White House menorah lighting ceremony, December 10, 2001
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Victor S. Navasky is the publisher emeritus of The Nation and chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review. He is the author of the National Book Award-winner Naming Names and A Matter of Opinion. In 1984, with Mr. Cerf, he cofounded the Institute of Expertology.
Robert Grossman's illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The New Yorker, The New York Observer, Rolling Stone, and many other publications.
Read an Excerpt
Saddam Hussein: "A Force for Peace in the Middle East"
Access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states...are vital to U.S. national security...Normal relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our longer-term interests and promote stability in the Gulf and the Middle East.
President George H. W. Bush, National Security Directive 26, paving the way for $1 billion in new U.S. loan guarantees to Iraq, October 2, 1989
I have been sitting here and listening to you for about an hour, and I am now aware that you are a strong and intelligent man and that you want peace. I believe, Mr. President, that you can be a very influential force for peace in the Middle East.
Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH), speaking to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein at a meeting between Hussein and American senators in Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 1990
I enjoy meeting candid and open people [like you].
Senator Alan K. Simpson (R-WY), Republican Whip of the Senate, speaking to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein at a meeting between Hussein and American senators in Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 1990
Access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states are vital to U.S. national security...Iraq...is clearly a power with interests inimical to our own.
President George H. W. Bush, National Security Directive 54, launching the First Gulf War, January 15, 1991
Premonitions of Liberation
Editors' Note: Pedants may argue that these "premonitions of liberation" more properly belong on page 42, where the attitudes of authoritative Americans on the eve of invasion are presented. Perhaps such objections would be justified.
Indeed, if this were a work of formal scholarship, we would have used the following few pages to present an abstract of our study. But we are, of course, committed to making our data comprehensible to the lay community. Therefore, rather than provide an obfuscatory précis, we herewith present what nonscientists might think of as a preview of coming attractions.
Dancing in the streets of Baghdad will be even more joyous than that in Kabul after its liberation.
Kenneth Adelman, member of the Defense Policy Board at the U.S. Department of Defense, February 13, 2002
After liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are sure to erupt in joy.
Vice President Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002
If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support.
Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, September 2002
We shall be greeted, I think, in Baghdad and Basra with kites and boom boxes.
Fouad Ajami, professor of Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University, assessing the likely outcome of an American invasion of Iraq, October 7, 2002
There will...occur in Iraq a...[show of military force] rapid and accurate and overwhelming enough to deal with an army or a country many times the size of Iraq...And that will be greeted by the majority of Iraqi people and Kurdish people as a moment of emancipation, which will be a pleasure to see...Bring it on.
Christopher Hitchens, journalist, January 28, 2003
I think they will be greeted with sweets and flowers in the first months and simply have very, very little doubts that that is the case...This is a remarkable situation in which the population of a country that's about to have a war waged over its head positively wants the war.
Kanan Makiya, Islamic scholar, March 17, 2003
I don't want to make a prediction...but you're going to find, and this is very important, you're going to find Iraqis out cheering American troops.
Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, February 23, 2003
The terrified and brutalized people of Iraq will rejoice at the downfall of Saddam Hussein. And when we finally smash his evil regime suddenly those countries that doubt us will have their eyes opened.
Richard Perle, Chairman, Defense Policy Board, February 23, 2003
The Iraqi people understand what this crisis is about. Like the people of France in the 1940s, they view us as their hoped-for liberator.
Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, March 11, 2003
My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.
Vice President Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003
I believe...that the Iraqi people will greet us as liberators.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), March 20, 2003
A poll commissioned by the Coalition Provisional Authority in May 2004, just thirteen months after U.S. troops entered Baghdad, showed that Iraqis who viewed American-led forces as "liberators" numbered only 2 percent of those polled.
Copyright © 2008 by Christopher Cerf Associates, Inc., and Victor S. Navasky
Illustrations copyright © 2008 by Robert Grossman
It is, of course, twenty-four years since the Institute of Expertology issued its first findings. For those who may have been too young to see our study, or are too old to remember it, we recall that, not withstanding the best efforts of the Institute's worldwide cadre of researchers, we were unable to identify a single expert who was right. At the time, despite these findings, our scholarly integrity compelled us to concede the statistical probability that in theory the experts might be right as much as half the time. It was simply that we hadn't found any.
And this was despite our expansive definition of who qualifies as an expert. We use the term expert to designate people who, by virtue of celebrity, official status, formal title (military or civilian), academic degree, professional license, public office, journalistic beat, quantity of publications, and/or use of highly technical jargon, are presumed to know what they are talking about. Trust us, they don't.
However, when we decided to undertake a scholarly monograph with the working title "Expertology and the Iraq War: How Could So Many Have Been Misled by So Few?," we began to fear that our hypothesis that once again the experts got it wrong was erroneous. Our researchers deluged us with information, all of which showed such a historic unanimity of opinion on the war questions that the intellectual foundations of the Institute itself were shaken.
Certainly, indeed clearly, as Secretary of State Rice (one of the typically articulate experts represented in this particular volume) likes to say, we can state without fear of contradiction, based on a careful review of the Institute of Expertology archives, that never before in history has there been such a distinguished cast of experts as the one we have assembled here on the Iraq War. These are not your average experts. Our database consists of the highest government officials, diplomats, cabinet officers, four-star generals, bigfoot pundits, prize-winning Middle East scholars, top think-tank strategists, heads of congressional committees, the leadership of the Central Intelligence Agency, and such. Moreover, the database is transpartisan, featuring leading neoconservatives and liberals alike.
Thus, as responsible scholars, we tentatively had to consider the possibility that our scores of highly trained expertise experts at the Institute of Expertology were wrong in saying the experts were never right. In the case of America's adventure in Iraq, we seemed to have a clear exception to the Iron Law of Expertise. For never before in history has such a large and diverse group of experts been so unanimously in favor of a particular national policy as has this group in the case of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Could it be that we at the Institute were wrong?
Let us say in our defense that our work in the past covered many fields of expertise, including science, religion, music, literature, and economics. In those cases, the problems of identifying expertise were more complex and multifaceted. Frequently the experts disagreed with one another. In this study, however, we are concerned with but a single question: the wisdom of the United States invading and waging war in Iraq. On this clear question, we have uncovered an astonishing level of unanimity across the board. In the face of such unanimity, how could we, as scientific expertologists, say, "The experts were wrong"?
The temptation was to succumb to the weight of what appeared to be the evidence. Moreover, as patriotic Americans, we were as eager as our fellow countrymen to take pride in our country's triumphs so persuasively proclaimed by our brilliant, keenly intelligent, high-IQ, perspicacious homegrown opinion leaders "Made in the USA."
Of course, as scrupulous scholars, we planned to report and not suppress the fact that there was and is a small group of dissenters from this Great Consensus, but they are for the most part ordinary citizens or extreme left (and far right) wingers who really don't count, and so we don't count them. They would, in truth, only pollute our sample.
But after having completed our in-depth study and analysis of five years of expert commentary on the Iraq War, despite the near-unanimity and the high status and IQ of our subjects, we now must allow for the possibility that (with one exception, discussed below), the experts all got it wrong. We should have been suspicious of these overachievers based on our earlier studies. (Indeed, in our previous report we quoted Arthur R. Jensen, professor emeritus of educational psychology at Berkeley, who said, "The most important fact about intelligence is that we can measure it.") The fact that the Iraq experts all agreed with each other should have been the tip-off.
In the interests of objectivity, what we have decided to do, therefore, is publish this interim report, leaving open the possibility that the experts may all be right or they may all be wrong. We are confident that we will not have long to wait to learn precisely which faction was right and which was wrong. Indeed, we expect the answer in six months. A leading expert, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, has assured us that, as he said in 2003 (and again in 2004, 2005, etc.), "The next six months in Iraq" will settle the case once and for all.
By the way, we should mention here that we are more than cognizant that our critics and enemies will object that many of those we quote have changed their opinions over time and that we do not note this in our text. For example, we do not note that Richard Cohen, a Washington Post columnist who wrote in February 2003 that the evidence Colin Powell presented to the United Nations proved so conclusively that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction that "only a fool or possibly a Frenchman could conclude otherwise," later changed his mind about the war. He could stand in for many others. However, we do not include them in our sample for the same reason we don't count the original opponents of the war: namely, they would pollute our sample. Changing one's mind is an example of what is called in the field "negative expertology" and is the subject of a separate scientific study.
In any case, it is not for us, who are, after all, impartial social scientists, to pass judgment on the motives or character of those who supported the war and later retracted. No doubt many did so from high-minded motives, but we leave that determination to scholars in future studies that will set the record straight pundit by pundit.
On the other hand, much of the press like the columnist Cal Thomas, who wrote that Saddam Hussein was in such breach of UN resolutions "that only the duped, the dumb and the desperate could ignore it," or Laura Ingraham, who reported that "Hans Blix couldn't find stretch marks on Rosie O'Donnell" held firm to their convictions. Were they right in doing so? The next six months will definitively tell the story.
Finally, we wish to draw the reader's attention to our epilogue. One of the outcomes of the Iraq study whatever its final findings is that it did produce one expert who was right. To avoid presenting this expert out of context, we resist the temptation to quote him here. (On the matter of context, we are the first to concede that some of the quotations in this book may be said to be out of context. But that is only because the context itself was constantly changing: Why did we go into Iraq in the first place, for instance: WMDs? To bring democracy to the Middle East? Regime change? To combat terrorism? Oil?)
We can, however, assert with confidence that anyone who gets as far as the epilogue will have to agree that our study whatever its final findings has produced one expert on whose foresight both the experts and we expertologists are in unanimous agreement.
Victor S. Navasky
Founders, the Institute of Expertology
George W. ("Mission Accomplished") Bush, President of the United States of America
Dick ("The streets of Baghdad are sure to erupt in joy") Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America
Condoleezza ("We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud") Rice, U.S. Secretary of State
Donald ("Stuff Happens") Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense
Richard ("Saddam will take the UN down with him") Perle, Chairman, Defense Policy Board
Tom ("The next six months will tell the story") Friedman, New York Times columnist
George ("It's a slam dunk!") Tenet, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
L. Paul ("Insurgents pose no strategic threat") Bremer III, Director of the Coalition Provisional Authority
Fred ("We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Saddam Hussein has been pursuing aggressively weapons of mass destruction") Barnes, editor, The Weekly Standard
Colin ("Every statement I make [at the UN] is backed up by sources, solid sources"] Powell, U.S. Secretary of State
Jacob ("The interesting question is why pessimism continues to flourish in the face of military success") Weisberg, Slate reporter
Paul ("Iraq was the logical place to begin") Berman, International Herald Tribune reporter
Bill ("Military action will not last more than a week") O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor host
David ("The blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans is on the hands of the anti-war activists") Horowitz, Los Angeles Times reporter
William ("Democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world's sole superpower") Kristol, Weekly Standard editor
Douglas J. ("This month will be a turning point") Feith, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Mitch ("Iraq will not require sustained aid") Daniels, U.S. Budget Director
Hazin ("We will cut off their hands and behead them") Shaalan, Iraqi Minister of Defense
Charles ("We must be prepared to torture") Krauthammer, syndicated columnist
Alberto ("I don't recall") Gonzales, U.S. Attorney General
John ("Reasonable people will disagree about when torture is justified") Yoo, Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Rush ("Abu Ghraib is no different from what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation") Limbaugh, The Rush Limbaugh Show host
Ann ("We should kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity") Coulter
Copyright © 2008 by Christopher Cerf Associates, Inc., and Victor S. Navasky
Illustrations copyright © 2008 by Robert Grossman
Table of Contents
PART I: SADDAM HUSSEIN: "A FORCE FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST"
PART II: PREMONITIONS OF LIBERATION
VOLUME I: THE GATHERING STORM
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: DOES SADDAM REALLY HAVE THEM? (ONLY A FOOL OR POSSIBLY A FRENCHMAN COULD CONCLUDE OTHERWISE)
Does Saddam Have Nukes? "We Don't Want the Smoking Gun to be a Mushroom Cloud!"
"16 Little Words"
Chemical and Biological Weapons
Biological Vans: Cooking Everything but the Books?
Anthrax: "Let's All Take a Deep Breath"
The Loyal Opposition Speaks
THE MISSING LINK
Mohammed Atta's Trip to Prague: An "Undisputed Fact"
AN IMMINENT THREAT?
Postscript: On the Imminency of Nonimminency
UNIMPEACHABLE SOURCES: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JUDITH MILLER
THE SEARCH FOR A DIPLOMATIC SOLUTION
Inspecting the Inspectors (or The Search for Rosie O'Donnell's Stretch Marks)
Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys
War or Peace? "The Decider Has Yet to Decide"
VOLUME II: THEIR FINEST HOUR: AMERICA READIES ITSELF TO FREE THE IRAQI PEOPLE
HOW MANY TROOPS WILL BE NEEDED?
Postscript: What About Casualties?
A BURNING QUESTION: WHAT'S OIL GOT TO DO WITH IT?
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST? A WAR THAT WILL PAY FOR ITSELF!
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? (OR WHEN DO WE GET TO DINE IN THE GASLIGHT DISTRICT?)
And Wait...There's Even More Good News!
Postscript: "The Rush to Peace"
VOLUME III: THE GRAND ALLIANCE
Part I: The Coalition of the Willing Invades Iraq
THE COALITION OF THE WILLING
"GOD IS GRILLING THEIR STOMACHS IN HELL!"
"THE GREATEST HEROINE OF ALL TIME": SAVING PRIVATE LYNCH
Part II: Mission Accomplished
POSTSCRIPT: AND YOU KNOW WHAT? THINGS COULD HAVE GONE EVEN BETTER!
VOLUME IV: THE HINGE OF FATE
LOOTING: "A NATURAL PROCESS" AND "A RELIEF TO COLLEGE STUDENTS EVERYWHERE"
Postscript: Keeping Our Priorities Straight
RESISTANCE? WHAT RESISTANCE?
WHY BAGHDAD IS JUST LIKE MANHATTAN (OR IS IT CALIFORNIA?)
THE NEXT (OR NEXT TO LAST) WORD ON WMDS
Postscript: So We Didn't Find the WMDs. Big Deal!
A "BUNCH OF BULL": THE "IRRELEVANT" DEBATE OVER THE "16 LITTLE WORDS"
THE VALERIE PLAME AFFAIR
TORTURE: THE NEW PARADIGM
Optional Reading: The Geneva Convention
Welcome to Guantánamo!
Postscript: Should Guantánamo Prison Be Shut Down?
The Case for Torture
Postscript: The President Calls the World to Action
The Comforts of Abu Ghraib
ALL HAIL THE VICEROY: JERRY BREMER AND THE CPA
Postscript: Money Players
Perspectives on Chaos
COMING REAL SOON NOW: THE NEW, DE-BA'ATHIFIED IRAQI SECURITY FORCES!
CONTRACTORS: "SKYDIVERS AND MOTORCYCLISTS"
"An Uptick in Local Engagements"
The Ambush in Fallujah: What Really Happened?
"Humane Democracy" in Nisour Square
See No Evil, Hear No Evil
Postscript: The Cookie and Buzzy Show
A CIVIL WAR? NOT BLOODY LIKELY!
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED REVISITED
VOLUME V: CLOSING THE RING: THE END GAME?
MEASURING THE IRAQ WAR IN "FRIEDMAN UNITS"
VIGILANCE, THE PRICE OF LIBERTY
Some Dare Call It Treason: America's Fifth Column
Fear Itself: The Bush Administration Reassures America
Things We Mustn't Do (So the Terrorists Won't Win)
Postscript: The Hunt for Osama bin Laden
VOLUME VI: TRIUMPH OR TRAGEDY? AMERICA LOOKS BACK AT FIVE YEARS OF CONFLICT
WHY WE FIGHT
PLANTING THE SEEDS OF FREEDOM (THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS)
"Resolve, Constancy and Unity of Purpose"
PROFILES IN COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM
RUMSFELD'S PERFORMANCE: THE DECIDER DECIDES
NOTHING FAILS LIKE SUCCESS!
THE NEW CRUSADERS
God Is on Our Side
Postscript: God Is on Their Side, Too
In Closing: A Message of Unity and Hope from President George W. Bush
EPILOGUE: FINALLY, AN EXPERT WHO WAS RIGHT
THE INSTITUTE OF EXPERTOLOGY
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: A SNEAK PREVIEW OF OUR FORTHCOMING BOOK, THE EXPERTS SPEAK ABOUT IRAN
What People are Saying About This
"All the golden oldies are here, from the title of the book itself to Rumsfeld's "freedom is untidy" to Kenneth Adelman's prediction that the war would be a "walk in the park" to Cheney and McCain's prediction that the Iraqis would greet us as "liberators." Readers may wish to do Sudoku puzzles instead of wallowing in memories of Ari Fleischer and WMDs. But readers who opt for Mission Accomplished may find that it pins them to their, um, seats." Salon.com
"Having amassed an aircraft carrier's worth of lies about the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky can now crow Mission Accomplished!. Indeed." Vanity Fair
"Almost 25 years after the amusing The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, Victor Navasky and Christopher Cerf have compiled its successor, Mission Accomplished! The new book, nicely illustrated by satirist Robert Grossman, hangs authorities of all vocations and ideological stripes with their words about slam dunks, cakewalks, willing coalitions, the war's cost, Jessica Lynch, Blackwater and much more." Washington Post Express