Monday, April 17, 2006

Adjusting to reality

“I changed my mind as part of a necessary adjustment to reality,” — Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama, the famous neocon intellectual, did a brave thing recently: He changed his mind about the Iraq war.
In an Op-ed piece that ran in a number of papers over the weekend, Fukuyama makes some excellent points that are sure to rankle folks on both the right and left ends of the political spectrum.
First he says that “no one should be required to apologize for having supported intervention in Iraq before the war.”
I don’t necessarily agree with that, but fine, whatever.
But then he goes on to make this salient point:

The debate over the war shouldn't have been whether it was morally right to topple Hussein (which it clearly was), but whether it was prudent to do so given the possible costs and potential consequences of intervention and whether it was legitimate for the U.S. to invade in the unilateral way that it did.

I’ve made that same point here many times. Just because I opposed launching a pre-emptive strike and a massive land invasion of Iraq does not mean that I supported keeping Hussein in power anymore than Bush’s decision not to invade North Korea three years ago means he supports keeping Kim Jong Il in power.

Fukuyama makes a lot of other good points and I would urge everyone to go and read the whole article, but the part that struck me the most was right at the end where he bemoans the intransigence of most political opinion today:

Political debate has become a spectator sport in which people root for their team and cheer when it scores points, without asking whether they chose the right side. Instead of trying to defend sharply polarized positions taken more than three years ago, it would be far better if people could actually take aboard new information and think about how their earlier commitments, honestly undertaken, actually jibe with reality — even if this does on occasion require changing your mind.

This is sad but true in many respects. I know I have been guilty in the past of cheering on my “team” when I have not adequately studied and researched the issues being debated. Sometimes we all need to adjust our opinions to better align ourselves with reality.

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