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Ms. Wrong | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Ms. Wrong

In her latest column, Ann Coulter honors me by announcing me the winner ofthe Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Wrong Predictions. I proudly acceptthis award for in Coulter's tangled, fictional world right is always wrong,and what liberals say is always wrong even when they are right.

To be more specific, Coulter accuses me of wrongly predicting that invadingIraq would lead to more terrorist retaliation. According to the recent USgovernment report, the number of terrorist attacks has increasedsignificantly since the Iraq war. The overwhelming majority of thoseincidents have been aimed at US personnel in Iraq.

She also says I was wrong when I said that invading would undermine thefight against Al Qaeda. But this is the view of many officials in the BushAdministration itself, including such distinguished departing officials asRichard Clarke. What she did not tell you is that I alsopredicted that the war would cause a spawning of new bin Laden-inspiredgroups, as most terrorist experts readily now confirm.

In addition, she accuses me of wrongly suggesting that the invasion of Iraqwould "possibly unleash those very weapons of mass destruction into thehands of rogue terrorists in Iraq." I and The Nation magazine were always clear inour view that the Bush Administration had not proved its case that Iraqstill possessed weapons of mass destruction. But we did say that if Iraqdid have any such weapons, the greatest danger would be that during thechaos of war they would fall into the hands of renegade forces. And indeeda lot of deadly material and weapons did disappear into the hands of bothinsurgent forces and outside terrorists; many of those weapons have beenused to kill American personnel.

Coulter also accuses me of wrongly predicting that the United States wouldstay in Iraq as a colonial power. My view was that if it did try to stay inIraq indefinitely, it would quickly become viewed as a colonial power andtherefore would encounter increasing resistance--a prediction borne out bothby public opinion polls in Iraq and bloody events on the ground.

Coulter says that I was wrong when I said that elections were not verylikely to produce a secular democracy. Perhaps by Coulter's standards, whatIraq now has is a secular democracy. But perhaps she should wait a littlelonger before giving me credit for being right--I mean wrong--on this one.After all, the new government has yet to draft a constitution and PrimeMinister Ibrahim al-Jaafari still talks about adopting Sharia law.

Finally, she makes some obscure reference to my long-time interest in Russiaand the Soviet Union. Did the planned economy fail because the farmers hadseventy years of bad weather? I can in good conscience say that I never ever madethat prediction. But I did predict that Gorbachev's perestroika was forreal, even as those of Coulter's ilk were predicting it was just anotherSoviet ruse to lull us to sleep, because I believed a new generation ofRussians wanted a better life for their people.

Ms. Right gets it wrong. Again and again.

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