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Evil? Stupid? Which is worse?

And is there really a difference, when they’re both killing you?

This was brought on by Riverbend’s recent post.

“The Americans have done a fine job of working to break [Iraq] apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The ‘mistakes’ were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.”

I wonder. My immediate reaction is the same as hers. Nobody could be that stupid. (I adhere to the conspiracy theory that says it’s about oil. Once you have the war of the all against the all, they grind themselves to rubble, and then you have a free hand to come in with your siphon and get the black gold for next to nothing.)

But the scientist in me insists on considering the null hypothesis: What if they are that stupid?

Think about it. What if they really are that stupid? The mind reels. It’s actually easier to think they could be that evil instead of that stupid.

And the implications for democracy are staggering. It means there really is a minimum of wisdom required to run a country. It implies not everyone has it. We’d have to start limiting the pool from which leaders can be elected. But how? Any limits always seem to wind up selecting for rich and powerful nincompoops. Which is where we are now.

My head hurts.

Technorati tags: Iraq, politics, oil , conspiracy