On September 24, 2002, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warned his readers about a “definite whiff of imperial ambition in the air.” The next month he was certain about the coming occupation of Iraq. “The administration has offered many different explanations, some of them mutually contradictory, for its determination to occupy Baghdad.”
Effective with the fall of Baghdad last week, Krugman inverted his critique, in the process establishing his own impeccable credentials when it comes to “mutually contradictory” arguments. “There is a pattern to the Bush administration’s way of doing business that does not bode well for the future–a pattern of conquest followed by malign neglect,” Krugman wrote April 11. “After the triumph,” he wrote of the Bush administration, “when it comes time to take care of what they’ve won, their attention wanders, and things go to pot.”
It’s hard to predict the future, but there’s no sign yet that the administration is suffering from attention deficit disorder. Indeed, postwar planning continues apace in Washington and Kuwait.