Thursday, 22 November 2007

Judeosphere rates the Realists

Judeosphere offers a sampling of the only too human fallibility of John Mearsheimer's and a few other Realists' predictions:
"During the last few months, I've seen a number of editorials demanding that pundits be held accountable for their "complicity" in making the case for war in Iraq.
Writing in the National Interest, Justin Logan offers what he considers to be a practical solution:
Thanks to news cycles and short attention spans, pundits get away with murder. Columnists and talking heads can issue endless prognostications about what Iraq will look like in another six months, and because nobody’s going to remember to follow up six months on, it doesn’t matter whether they were right.
The best way to correct the situation is by developing a predictions database, where experts can weigh-in on specific, falsifiable claims about the future, putting their reputations on the line. Something like this was envisioned in a DARPA program developed under Admiral John Poindexter in 2003. The so-called "policy analysis "market" was designed to allow analysts to buy futures contracts for various scenarios. As the value of these contracts went up or down, other analysts could observe and investigate why, determining how and why others were "putting their money where their mouths were", and whether they should do the same.

Well now, that's interesting. What's also interesting is that Justin Logan is an analyst at the Cato Institute, which is affiliated with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt are among the Coalition's founding members.
So, I find myself wondering: How would the venerable foreign policy realists fare in this proposed predictions database? Here's a sampling:
John Mearsheimer: An academic with such a wretched track record, that if he had been a royal astrologer he would have been beheaded. His 1990 opus [pdf] for the Atlantic Monthly, "Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War," confidently predicted that the decline of the Soviet Union would usher in a new arms race in Europe, with nations--especially Germany--rushing to build nuclear weapons. In a 1991 NYT editorial [pdf], he made the case for the First Gulf War, predicting that "a quick victory will reduce losses on both sides." (Iraqi casualties: 40,000 dead troops and more than 140,000 dead civilians.) In 1993, he declared [pdf] that a Ukrainian nuclear deterrent was "inevitable", since the country would never return its nuclear warheads to Russia. (In 1995, Ukraine returned all of Russia's nuclear weapons.) Then, in 1998, he said [pdf] the Kosovo peace agreement was "doomed" to fail because "neither the Albanians nor the Serbs are likely to stick to it." (One year later, Milosevic agreed to withdraw troops from Kosovo, and the Kosovo Liberation Army agreed to disarm.)
Leon Hadar: His famous 1992 essay, "The Green Peril," declared that fundamentalist Islamic movements posed no threat to the West. (Hey, how did that turn out?)
Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute: A man who has predicted war so many times it's a wonder that we haven't been bombed back into the Bronze Age. In the last eight years he's warned of a forthcoming war with China; a forthcoming Turkish war against Greece; a Marxist/narcotrafficking takeover of Colombia; and war with North Korea.
Steven Clemons, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation: In 1998, he predicted an "economic tsunami" would soon strike Japan, and then engulf America and the entire global economy. (Ahhh! Run away! Run away!)
And there, my friends, are the "realist" pundits. By all means, let's add them to the "predictions database," so everyone can see firsthand their true market value."

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