The policy debate on Iraq is turning more and more bizarre; now it is the “civil war experts” chiming in on what they think is going on in Iraq. Enter Monica Duffy Toft on today’s Op-Ed page of the Washington Post, who is described as “an associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of “The Geography of Ethnic Violence” and is finishing off a book on the termination of civil war.”
The title of her essay is “Iraq Is Gone. Now What?” The whole thesis is based on this assertion: “Most scholars and policy analysts accept that Iraq is now in a civil war.” And she concludes by saying: “Either way, what we now think of as Iraq is almost certainly as gone as what we once thought of a Yugoslavia, and for the same reasons.”
I just got off the phone with Iraq. Apparently, the place is still very much in place.
I think that Professor Duffy Toft is jumping the gun. It is a sad fact of public life that “intellectualism” is a market commodity, and that various groups of experts are constantly trying to seek out new niches for media appearances and book deals. Now, we have a whole host of “civil war” and “ethnic strife” experts stampeding towards the “Iraq Is No More” limelight. This will only further distort whatever picture emerges out of Iraq, especially at a time when supposedly straight news stories in the NYT and the WaPo melodramatically editorialize the situation in Iraq as “a catastrophe” and “a mess.”
Sadly, there is very little oversight and accountability within the ranks of irresponsible academics. Ditto for journalists with a clear and petty bias.