Just before the war started, I wrote a piece about what were the most likely reasons for the invasion — how much it might cost and how long we could expect to be there. (You can download the full report in PDF or Word at that link).
Its intended audience was primarily the European Institutional clients of my firm — a long time group of observers of the U.S. economic/political environment, who could not fathom what was going on in the U.S. One perplexed fund manager said he feared the U.S. had “gone off the rails.”
The institutional feedback on the piece was very positive. A few people were kind enough to describe it as “prescient.” It made only modest ripples at the time (by the likes of Prof Dave Farber’s Interesting People, amongst others).
There is some small irony to this: I believed then — and still believe now — that any intelligent person who objectively looked at the evidence would have reached the same conclusions I did. That’s what I get paid to do: evaluate information that can impact the capital markets for institutional investors, both domestically and internationally. My firm manages over $5 Billion dollars and we advise clients with total assets in the 100s of Billions of dollars.
While there may be lots of partisans on both sides of this issue, my ultimate “party loyalty” is market performance. I cannot afford the luxuriously self-indulgent act of political cheerleading. (That’s why Economists with unstated political agendas make the worst money managers). So when I say I have no party affiliation, that’s for real.
What is particularly annoying to me today is the latest meme making the rounds: “No one could have known there were no WMD.” This is, of course, utter nonsense. All it took was some open-source research, a dollop of objectivity, and a little analytical skill. Perhaps my “reverse engineering” of the underlying thesis was a bit clever, but beyond that, it did not take all that much in the way of candlepower to see that Saddam was in a box.
The next time you hear someone claiming, “No one could have known that there wasn’t any WMD,” you correct them – and send them right here . . .
Not-So-Hidden Agenda: Strategic and Economic Assessments of U.S. led Invasion in the Middle East
Pre War Analysis, March 19, 2003
U.S. Report Finds Iraqis Eliminated Illicit Arms in 90’s
By DOUGLAS JEHL
New York Times, October 7, 2004
Report Disputes U.S. Assertions On Iraqi Weapons (sub only)
By GREG JAFFE and DAVID S. CLOUD
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 7, 2004; Page A3
U.S. ‘Almost All Wrong’ on Weapons
Report on Iraq Contradicts Bush Administration Claims
By Dana Priest and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 7, 2004; Page A01
Report Discounts Iraqi Arms Threat U.S. Inspector Says Hussein Lacked Means
By Mike Allen and Dana Priest
Washington Post, Wednesday, October 6, 2004; Page A01
War’s Rationales Are Undermined One More Time; Revelations May Hurt Bush’s ImageBy Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 7, 2004; Page A35
Final report: Iraq had no WMDs
USATODAY, 10/6/2004 12:27 AM Updated 10/7/2004 7:44 AM