Totten: Arguing for Uncertainty (with Demagogues)

Michael J. Totten answers an attack from anti-Islam zealot Andrew Bostom: Arguing for Uncertainty.

Andrew Bostom – pal of Robert Spencer and the deranged Pamela Geller – bizarrely accuses me of being an uninformed dogmatist for publishing a “roseate view” of Iraq, even though my article in question was dedicated to quoting Iraqis and American soldiers with a gloomy view of Iraq. The Future of Iraq Part III just wasn’t dogmatically down-beat enough for old Andy Bostom, I guess.

The Future of Iraq Part IV will be published here shortly. Everyone I’ll quote in that piece is also pessimistic about what’s likely to happen in Iraq now that American troops are withdrawing from urban areas. For more optimistic assessments, see The Future of Iraq Part I and The Future of Iraq Part II.

The reason I’m publishing competing narratives about the future of Iraq is because anything’s possible and I’m no longer arrogant enough to think I have it all figured out.

James Fallows politely argues with his colleague Robert Kaplan, whom I recently interviewed here, in The Atlantic. “Arguing for uncertainty,” he wrote, “or for many possible futures that will in fact be shaped by real choices by real human beings, may seem weak and unsatisfying. On the other hand: it conforms to the facts….”

Jeffrey Goldberg, also at The Atlantic, agrees. I interviewed him here recently, too. “Anyone who acts like they’ve figured out the entire Middle East doesn’t know anything,” he said. “People who tell you they understand and know the answer? Demagogues. They’re either idiots or demagogues.”

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