Accountability

Why pay attention to those who were right about Iraq, when you could listen to, and even elect, those who were wrong?

Five years, and four thousand body bags, into the conquest and apparently interminable occupation of Iraq is as good a time as any for some self-reflection on the part of those of us who supported its commencement, however skeptically. We were wrong.

Still, I strongly protest the notion that the people who lucked into being right (largely out of their pacifism, latent anti-Americanism, and secret admiration for radical Islam) ought to enjoy some sort of privileged status in the ongoing discourse. Accountability is a fine thing, in principle, but a little goes a long way.

After all, we all agree that experience is the most important thing, right? And it’s well known that “experience is the name that people give to their mistakes.” Those of us who were mistaken are, therefore, more experienced than those who happened to be right, and deserve both to be listened to and to be elected President.

Yes, dammit, this is meant ironically.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com