Like Saddam's WMDs, We Still Manufacture 'Mainstream'

Paul Krugman thinks we haven't learned to examine 'mainstream' consensus

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 18, 2013 1:22 PM CDT | Updated Mar 18, 2013 1:51 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war, a disastrous war fought on false pretenses. "So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it," Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times. The real trick of the Iraq war buildup was the illusion of consensus proponents created. "To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that 'everyone' thought" Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Sure there were dissenters, but they weren't mainstream.

Of course, that logic is circular; support for the war became part of the definition of "mainstream." But today, groupthink still reigns, Krugman argues, offering as proof the current "deficit obsession." Now, as then, there is an illusion of consensus, the press often seems to have chosen sides, and anyone dissenting is outside the mainstream. "What we should have learned from the Iraq debacle was that you should always be skeptical. … And policy arguments should be evaluated on the merits, not by who expresses them." Click for Krugman's full column.

Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the UN Security Council in this Feb. 5, 2003 file photo.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
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