Michael Totten

Arguing for Uncertainty

Andrew Bostom — pal of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller — bizarrely accuses me of being “an uninformed dogmatist”:http://www.andrewbostom.org/blog/2009/07/14/don%e2%80%99t-know-much-about-history-or-reality/ 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”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/07/the-future-of-i-2.php 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”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/05/the-future-of-i.php and “The Future of Iraq Part II”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/05/the-future-of-i-1.php.
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”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/07/a-conversation.php, in The Atlantic. “Arguing for uncertainty,” “he wrote”:http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/07/jim_fallows_is_a_very_polite_m.php, “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”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/07/the-real-quagmi.php recently, too. “Anyone who acts like they’ve figured out the entire Middle East doesn’t know anything,” “he said”:http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/2009/07/the-real-quagmi.php. “People who tell you they understand and know the answer? Demagogues. They’re either idiots or demagogues.”
*I removed a gratuitous insult from this post.