Iran, Nuclear Ambitions, and Uncertainty

by Conor Friedersdorf

I'm looking forward to reading Jeffrey Goldberg's piece elsewhere at The Atlantic on Iran, its pursuit of nuclear technology, Israel's likely response, and America's options. In general I find his long form reportage an invaluable source of information and analysis, and I very much dissent from the uncharitable assessments of his past work offered by some of his critics. Indeed I am confident that if they read more of his work they'd change their assessment.

I do think it's fair to say that in important respects the Iraq War turned out differently than Mr. Goldberg anticipated. In this he is hardly alone. And although this point occurred to me in his defense, I think it's also an insight that should inform the current debate about Iran: there is always a substantial disconnect between what even our most informed analysts think is going to happen in a geopolitical conflict, and what actually happens if that very conflict actually occurs.

What I'd like to inject into the national debate is a reminder of how imperfect our knowledge can be. I wonder if Daily Dish readers can help. I'm hoping to gather a bunch of examples of analysis made prior to the Iraq War that proved incorrect in hindsight. Unlike most efforts of this kind, I'm not looking for gotcha moments with which to taunt other writers, especially since often as not I was every bit as wrong as they were (and lucky enough to have been covering other subjects). My purpose is to highlight passages that underscore how vast a gulf can separate what even informed observers think is going to happen, and the unexpected, unintended consequences of military action. Examples can be sent to with the word "Iraq" in the subject line. The more diverse sources, the better.