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August 06, 2007

To Err is Human (Political, Clinical)

Yesterday’s NYT Magazine contains a remarkable item written by an elected politician who now admits he was wrong in favoring the US invasion of Iraq right up until it began. Had it been written by an American politician, it would have been even more remarkable, but Michael Ignatieff is Canadian; yet his mea culpa is especially relevant because most  of it is devoted to a cogent analysis of the consequences of being wrong in general and how the complex process of error correction, which must inevitably follow consequential errors, is made even more complex by the unwillingness/inability of the key actors (often politicians) who made them to admit they were wrong.

In other words, President Bush, the person most responsible for the ill-advised American effort that destabilized a key nation in an important part of the world, still exerts major influence over its eventual outcome. Clearly, since he still refuses (at least publicly) to even consider the possibility that his decision was an error, there’s little hope it will be “corrected” before the next Presidential Election in November 2008.

Another key point Ignatieff makes is the importance of time; the simplistic idea that even minor errors can be corrected in such a way as to return to the status quo that existed before they were made may be appealing, but it’s obviously wrong. While what has happened in Iraq since March 1, 2003 may have actually benefitted some participants and been a disaster for others, it has also impacted every Iraqi and every American and will have consequences that will affect human history for as long as it is studied.

A good example can be found in another article published this past week-end in CounterPunch. Eric Ruder’s account of how the Army is  dealing with the entity known as PTSD is entirely consistent with the behavior displayed by our federal government after both the Viet Nam and Gulf Wars. That PTSD exists is now recognized by most medical authorities; however, both its genesis and optimal treatment are still uncertain, and most physicians could be expected to remain silent on whether it can be safely and effectively treated by cannabis (marijuana).

That's a bit of clinical reality I’ve had confirmed repeatedly by patients seeking my recommendation  to use it in accordance with a Califormia law that is now more than ten years old, but still opposed by the same President Bush who started the fiasco in Iraq and still insists we are “winning.” It's also implicitly denied by the medically untrained "reformers" described by Fred Gardner; also in this week's CounterPunch, who insist they are winning despite the increasing success of the DEA in colluding with local cops to crush a late-blooming pot distribution network in the Southland that neither the feds nor reform either anticipated or understood.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 6, 2007 05:44 PM