Why no utopia? (Wino Utopia). I should be reading economics; instead I’m reading comics. Looking through the archives of Tom Tomorrow’s great weekly strip. Age shall not weary it, nor hindsight dim its lustre.
September 17th 2001: “What will happen in the wake of this monstrous act? Some form of retaliation against someone is clearly inevitable – but it’s hard to imagine it will stop there… we are far more likely to find ourselves trapped in an escalating cycle of violence and retribution for years and even decades to come.”
September 24th: “Bin Laden’s organisation consists of perhaps a few thousand men scattered throughout dozens of countries… It’s like being at war with MENSA or something…”
November 5th: “This week: Patriotic Optimism! … No new terrorists will rise from the ashes. “Sure American bombs killed my family and destroyed my home – but I will always be grateful…””
August 30th 2002: “The Optimist’s guide to war in Iraq. … Iraq’s many splintered factions quickly join together in harmony and bring stability to the land… The war destabilizes the entire region – but in a good way!”
April 1st 2003: “Of course the Iraqis won’t put up a fight! They’re going to lay down their weapons and welcome us as liberators! … / Of course there have been casualties! What did you expect? No one ever said this was going to be easy!… / Of course the occupational government had to impose martial law! But it’s only a temporary measure until we can restore order! … / Of course Iraq has descended into chaos and civil war – but Iran is going to be a cakewalk!”
And January 30th 2007: “It’s true that I predicted an easy victory, a grateful Iraqi populace, and a rapid flowering of Jeffersonian democracy… and to the extent that those things haven’t entirely happened yet, you could say that I was at least partially wrong…. However – that doesn’t mean that you were right! You may have predicted that the war would turn out badly – but you did not predict the precise way in which it would turn out badly – nor the exact sequence of events leading to that outcome! So as far as I’m concerned the only lesson to be drawn here is that nobody can predict the future! That’s it! No other lessons! End of story!”
Meanwhile The Economist, still defending its decision to support the war, has started referring to opponents of the occupation as ‘populists’, who “pander without reservation.” (Sept. 8th-14th, p. 28) And, according to the latest Seymour Hersh New Yorker article, “there has been a significant increase in the tempo” of the Bush administration’s planning for an attack on Iran. “’They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,’ one recently retired C.I.A. official said. ‘They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002.’” In another eerie parallel, “The bombing plan has had its most positive reception from the newly elected government of Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.”
Tom Tomorrow: please be wrong this time.