December 7, 2006
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War of the Imagination

In the New York Review Of Books, Mark Danner offers a wonderfully-written, lyrical examination of Iraq: The War Of The Imagination. His starting point is an interview with an energetic, young, American expert on the eve of the constitutional ratification vote — a vote, the expert assured Danner, that would attract considerable support even in Sunni Anbar province.

And I thought of his words again several days later when it was confirmed that in Anbar province—where the most knowledgeable, experienced, indefatigable American had confided to me what he had plainly ardently believed, that on the critical vote on the constitution 'a great many people would vote yes'—that in Anbar ninety-seven out of every hundred Iraqis who voted had voted no. With all his contacts and commitment, with all his energy and brilliance, on the most basic and critical issue of politics on the ground he had been entirely, catastrophically wrong.With all his contacts and commitment, with all his energy and brilliance, on the most basic and critical issue of politics on the ground he had been entirely, catastrophically wrong.

The Bush Administration imagined a successful war in Iraq that would transform the Middle East, and apparently assumed that simply imagining a good outcome would suffice.