compulsory reading, German Politics, Iraq, media, US Politics

Does it matter…

that I forgot to mention Paul Krugman’s latest column so far? It probably doesn’t. The very fact that I am reading his columns confirms that Paul does get sufficient public exposure even without my mentioning him [I wonder – does this sound pretentious or merely ironic to your ears ;-)].

But as Paul Krugman wonders whether it matters that the US population has been misled into war given that it allowed the most powerful military in the world to quite successfully flex its muscles and liberate-slash-conquer Iraq in a blitz, I think I would be guilty of omission should I not mention the column at all.

Now I don’t think that one should expect politicians to be entirely truthful about their motives, all the time. And I think I am cynical enough to say that Krugman is probably not actually expecting that

“… a democracy’s decisions, right or wrong, are supposed to take place with the informed consent of its citizens.”

He certainly knows enough about transaction costs and the reasons for having division of labour in politics, ie representative democracy. But the gist of his argument remains right: It is wrong, if not outright amoral, for the political class of a country to willingly engage in creating wrong perceptions in a major policy area – in Paul Krugman’s words –

“[t]hanks to this pattern of loud assertions and muted or suppressed retractions, the American public probably believes that we went to war to avert an immediate threat – just as it believes that Saddam had something to do with Sept. 11.”

We all know that truth can be a fickle firend sometimes. So it is probably correct to argue, that, in a purely logical sense, the US administration was not ‘lying’ to anyone, just as it claims –

“We were not lying,” a Bush administration official told ABC News. “But it was just a matter of emphasis.” … According to the ABC report, the real reason for the war was that the administration “wanted to make a statement.” And why Iraq? “Officials acknowledge that Saddam had all the requirements to make him, from their standpoint, the perfect target.”

By the way, the same argument can be made for those German union leaders and those within the social democrats who still claim that the German labour market does not need reform. But then again, I am not too sure about their motives being vile. Maybe their own perception has been clouded and they actually don’t know better… in which case we would be back to the old question: what’s better? A political class working against the people’s interest for reasons of a private agenda or for reasons of incompetence, pure and simple.

That’s certainly a tough call. Especially on a sunny socialist holiday ;-). [ author off to a beer garden. ]