Parade of Horribles

I saw the Daily Show interview with Donald Rumsfeld from last week (part 1, part 2). Part 2 starts with a discussion of a “parade of horribles” that Rumsfeld presented to the administration in the process leading up to the invasion of Iraq. It was a list of things that could happen, such as not finding weapons of mass destruction, having to spend 6-8 years in Iraq, etc.

What is the purpose of such a list? For example when deciding on whether to get a dog, making such a list is an effective way to talk yourself out of it. There are a lot of positives, but there are also a lot of costs (likely and possible) to owning a dog. It’s easy to get excited about the thought of a cute little puppy, but it is in the long-term best interest of everyone involved (including the puppy) that every major aspect of having a puppy is thoroughly considered.

This is where his famous line of about “known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns” comes in. While this gives a perception of deliberation, sitting back and watching Rumsfeld during the interview, I got the sense that the “parade of horribles” was never taken seriously. As we known now, most of the items on that list have come true. So Rumsfeld was at least on some level aware of the risks. Why were these risks not presented to the American people? Why were WE not part of this¬†deliberation? Lastly, why did the Bush administration rain on Rumsfeld’s parade?


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