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Iraq

Francis Fukuyama loses a bet.

Discussions - 8 Comments

Good. I hope he loses many.

At $100 a pop I am sure he can afford to loose them in convenient and ingenious fashions.

Let me know when Fukuyama looses a sum equal to at least half of his End of History book revenue.

Key graf: "Saddam is dead. Had he remained in power, we would likely still believe he had WMD. He would have been sitting on an oil bonanza priced at $140 a barrel. He would almost certainly have broken free from an already crumbling sanctions regime. The U.S. would be faced with not one, but two, major adversaries in the Persian Gulf."

And might I add, that given that we would still probably be convinced by his WMD bluff, THERE WOULD BE NO CONCEIVABLE WAY we or the Europeans could EVEN TRY to necogiate with Iran to get rid of their nukes. Not that that's going to work (indeed at this point it looks like Israel will wind up attacking) but at least it remains an option. At least we can say we tried. Were Saddam still in power, the only options would be to tolerate a nuclear Iran (and later, Turkey, Saudis), or to attack them ourselves.

Oh, but it was a DISASTER, a DISASTER, a DISASTER!

Carl, you're in fine form.

Mr. Fukuyama made the mistake of taking a position that could be falsified by facts. He is usually more careful. I remember the debates over The End of History. Mr. Fukuyama struck a position that could only be falsified if all capitalist liberal democracies were wiped out - a situation in which recriminating Mr. Fukuyama would be low on the list of priorities. Every alternative model was dismissed as either localized (islamic extremism) or temporary (chinese authoritarianism). Every setback would just be a blip. Mr. Fukuyama's embarrasment over Iraq should be a reminder to ambitious historical determinists to avoid subjecting their theories to the reality test.

Well Pete that seems like Karl Popper v. Hegel.

Of course technically this reality test gets somewhat strange and smells awefully fishy pretty quickly.

For example: "He would have been sitting on an oil bonanza priced at $140 a barrel." This is not a statement that can honestly be made, especially if you take the line that a lot of oil speculation is partially a result of the weaker dollar. The weaker dollar is partially the fault of large increases in the money supply which is partially the result of large deficits which is partially the result of Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq, which means that it is not at all clear that changes to the anticedent conditions wouldn't have changed the realities we have today.

The past is reflected in the present to such an extent that justifications for and against something like the Iraq war will probably never be capable of rebutal.

I am mainly interested in the character of predictions, because I am less alarmed by Bush and the Iraq War than the notion that everyone is essentially being rather cavalier when it comes to the necessarily imperfect art of making projections.

In other words I have good reason to believe that

John, its not that philosophical. Mr.
Fukuyama made his name by designing a thoery that was unfalsfiable by empirical methods. His defenses of his theory were very cunning but since they were not testable by facts or events (short of the complete disappearance of capitalist liberal democracy), every objection could be dismissed. In the case of events in Iraq since 2007, Mr. Fukuyama made a prediction that could be tested by facts and events (the rates of civillian and military deaths being the most spectacular metric). He was proven mistaken. Nobody is perfect, but its kind of funny to see a guy who can predict with certainty the future of the planet, get things so wrong when he applies his analytical skills to real lfe circumstances.

One might object and argue that I am being unfair to Mr. Fukuyama. Unforseeable circumstances and the forces of human nature can upend anyone's judgements about the future. But of course that is the main problem with Mr. Fukuyama's determinism. Isn't there something silly about arguing that the outcome of the war in Iraq is unforseeable, but that the destiny of humanity is clear? Chance and choice are available in Iraq but not elsewhere?

People really shouldn't go pushing bold foreign policy gambits, when they lack the nerve to hold steady when things get dicey.

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