As you may know, a while back I cowrote an article with my colleague Sam Rosenfeld called “The Incompetence Dodge.” The subject was folks who supported the Iraq War, then came to recognize it was a disaster, and then came to blame its disastrous nature on the ineptitude of the Bush administration. This, we argue, is a mistake — a dodge — an effort to avoid culpability for the fact that the basic concept and premises of the war were mistaken.
As several readers have pointed out, we seem to be seeing a new variant of this as Israelis sour on Ehud Olmert in the wake of the Lebanon War. In this instance, I think the case against the “incompetence” theory is even clearer. Lots of people around the world suggested that Israel’s campaign was ill-advised. And, to the best of my knowledge, absolutely none of us who said that made any reference to Olmert’s competence or lack thereof in framing our critiques. Then the war turned out more-or-less exactly as the skeptics predicted . . . skeptics who had nothing to draw on but a general analysis of the situation.