If somehow you could ever get work as a columnist for a major newspaper or as a cable news pundit, do it. You will have job security for life because no matter how many times you’re wrong about the things you’re supposedly an expert on, it makes no difference at all. The world of punditry is anything but a meritocracy, and in this field, “expert” analyses and predictions aren’t subject to a scoring system that promotes and relegates pundits. This isn’t the English Premier League, unfortunately.
There were many “experts” who pushed hard for the U.S. to invade Iraq in 2003 after the Bush administration had whipped the country up into a frenzy of fear by talking about mushroom clouds and Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent links to Al Qaeda. And now, these same people are undertaking the Herculean task of trying to explain that the Iraq war — a disaster by virtually every measure — actually didn’t cause the current crisis there in which Al Qaeda-affiliated militants are pushing toward Baghdad, which has prompted talk of the U.S. and Iran having to work together to stop it.
One of these people is Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria, who said of Iraq a couple of months after the U.S. invaded,
“The place is so dysfunctional, any stirring of the pot is good. America’s involvement in the region is for the good.” – Zakaria, May 2003
Zakaria’s pot-stirring has cooked up 11 years of sectarian violence that is now threatening to turn Iraq into Afghanistan under the Taliban. And now, he’s back with another killer analysis on just who is responsible for this mess: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and George W. Bush, but not because of the invasion:
“The prime minister and his ruling party have behaved like thugs, excluding the Sunnis from power, using the army, police forces and militias to terrorize their opponents. The insurgency the Maliki government faces today was utterly predictable…
“[Maliki] was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force… [i]t quickly decided to destroy Iraq’s Sunni ruling establishment and empower the hard-line Shiite religious parties that had opposed Saddam Hussein. This meant that a structure of Sunni power that had been in the area for centuries collapsed. These moves… might have been more consequential than the invasion itself. – Zakaria, June 2014
So in 2003, Zakaria thought the U.S. should stir the pot in Iraq, clearly failing to foresee the sectarian insurgencies that would result by toppling Saddam Hussein, but now he blames Maliki and Bush for not anticipating the insurgency which Zakaria himself was blindsided by.
Notice how for Zakaria, the current mess in Iraq is because of everything but the original event that birthed it — the invasion itself, which was launched because the Bush administration said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. That turned out to be false, which, in any sane world would discredit the war, to say nothing of the fact that the invasion was a violation of international law.
But Zakaria is all in, and if Iraq is teetering on the brink like the Balkans in the early 1990s, he certainly isn’t going to own up to it. His position is essentially, I was right to advocate the invasion, but don’t you dare blame the violence it wrought on the invasion.
It’s a tough sell. In fact, it’s an impossible one. In any normal profession, Zakaria and the hawks would’ve been out on their asses a long time ago. But this isn’t a normal profession: It’s the world of punditry, where they remain as purveyors of expert opinion no matter how many times they blow it.