Friday, May 13, 2005

Ms. Wrong
Ms. Wrong
by Katrina vanden Heuvel

In her latest column, Ann Coulter honors me by announcing me the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Wrong Predictions. I proudly accept this award for in Coulter's tangled, fictional world right is always wrong, and what liberals say is always wrong even when they are right.

To be more specific, Coulter accuses me of wrongly predicting that invading Iraq would lead to more terrorist retaliation. According to the recent US government report, the number of terrorist attacks has increased significantly since the Iraq war. The overwhelming majority of those incidents have been aimed at US personnel in Iraq.

She also says I was wrong when I said that invading would undermine the fight against Al Qaeda. But this is the view of many officials in the Bush Administration itself, including such distinguished departing officials as Richard Clarke. What she did not tell you is that I also predicted that the war would cause a spawning of new bin Laden-inspired groups, as most terrorist experts readily now confirm.

In addition, she accuses me of wrongly suggesting that the invasion of Iraq would "possibly unleash those very weapons of mass destruction into the hands of rogue terrorists in Iraq." I and The Nation magazine were always clear in our view that the Bush Administration had not proved its case that Iraq still possessed weapons of mass destruction. But we did say that if Iraq did have any such weapons, the greatest danger would be that during the chaos of war they would fall into the hands of renegade forces. And indeed a lot of deadly material and weapons did disappear into the hands of both insurgent forces and outside terrorists; many of those weapons have been used to kill American personnel.

Coulter also accuses me of wrongly predicting that the United States would stay in Iraq as a colonial power. My view was that if it did try to stay in Iraq indefinitely, it would quickly become viewed as a colonial power and therefore would encounter increasing resistance--a prediction borne out both by public opinion polls in Iraq and bloody events on the ground.

Coulter says that I was wrong when I said that elections were not very likely to produce a secular democracy. Perhaps by Coulter's standards, what Iraq now has is a secular democracy. But perhaps she should wait a little longer before giving me credit for being right--I mean wrong--on this one. After all, the new government has yet to draft a constitution and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari still talks about adopting Sharia law.

Finally, she makes some obscure reference to my long-time interest in Russia and the Soviet Union. Did the planned economy fail because the farmers had seventy years of bad weather? I can in good conscience say that I never ever made that prediction. But I did predict that Gorbachev's perestroika was for real, even as those of Coulter's ilk were predicting it was just another Soviet ruse to lull us to sleep, because I believed a new generation of Russians wanted a better life for their people.

Ms. Right gets it wrong. Again and again.