Down the rabbit hole

I remember seeing this ad in the classifieds a few years back:

WANTED: Liberal hawk to write regular column for Los Angeles Times. Must be willing to say things that are 100% insane in attempt to redeem discredited political philosophy. Ability to do so without apparent sense of shame a +

As we now know, Jonathan Chait got the job. In his most recent column he disparages the idea that anyone who was right about Iraq should be listened to in the future. His particular whipping boy here is Jonathan Schell:

Being right about something is a fairly novel experience for Schell, and he’s obviously enjoying it immensely. But before we genuflect to Schell’s wisdom, it’s worth recalling that his own record of prognostication is not exactly perfect…

Schell insisted [in 1990] that we could force Iraq to leave Kuwait with sanctions alone, rather than by using military force. But the years that followed that war made it clear just how impotent that tool was. Saddam Hussein endured more than a decade of sanctions rather than give up a weapons of mass destruction program that turned out to be nonexistent. If sanctions weren’t enough to make him surrender his imaginary weapons, I think we can safely say they wouldn’t have been enough to make him surrender a prized, oil-rich conquest.

Sure, the sanctions motivated Saddam to get rid of his real WMD. But did they force him to get rid of his imaginary WMD? Clearly not!

Likewise, perhaps sanctions and regional negotiations could have forced Saddam out of the real Kuwait in 1991. But what good would sanctions have been in getting Saddam to leave the imaginary Kuwait? No good at all!

Thus, sanctions were “impotent.” QED.

BUT: Seriously, though, the people who run the United States are dangerously insane.