A day or so ago, National Review Online’s Jonah Goldberg penned a column stating that, in effect, knowing what we know now about Iraq, the war can only be called a mistake.
Having met Jonah a few times at some DC area NRO drink-fests, I love the guy and admire nearly everything he’s written (he wouldn’t know me from a hole in the ground, though).
I think he has totally missed the mark with his “if we knew then what we know now” approach to the Iraqi Freedom.
Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby answers Jonah with a great piece today. Read the whole thing here, but Jacoby
goes to the history books and mentions the war of 1812, the Civil War, the Battle
of the Bulge during WW2 as good examples of events the United States became
involved in that could have benefited from some future knowledge or some. Hell…..*anything* would go better if you knew
how it was going to end up, but things simply don’t work that way.
If one waits for a moment in time – for that particular instant when you know *precisely* what will happen, one will be waiting forever and will never act - ever, because you will never, ever know what the future has in store.
on Jacoby’s model, one can pick almost any page of history and find some
instance where if we knew what was going to happen or if we had *perfect*
intelligence (which is really what Goldberg is getting at), perhaps we would have
acted differently. That perfect knowledge
of events will never happen, so we must continue to do what needs to be done
based on what we have at the particular time.
Its a trite saying, but *hindsight* is 20/20 - *foresight* will never be better than our best efforts at gathering the best information that is available and acting on that information. Making informed decisiosn based on the information you know or have access to is one of the hard and fast responsibilities of our leaders, both civilian and military, right down the chain of command to the lowest ranks. Not acting because you don't have all the intelligence you need is certainly one option available to the warfighter, but when risks are weighed and options are developed, sometimes you simply cannot *not* act. Iraq was one of those situations.