Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May Mea Culpas

Yesterday, at the CGAI Symposium, I got to eat some crow as I was reminded that I had tweeted  about something and turned out to be wrong.  In this case, it was the Mistral story.  I had poo-poo-ed stories that indicated that the Canadians were interested in the French amphibious ships that were no longer being sold to the Russians.  As it turns out, the government was interested, the Canadian Navy wanted them, and the procurement bureaucrats were too slow and not so interested.

That news plus my speech last week after getting the Public Commentary award reminded me that this whole public engagement thing can be a bit, um, embarassing.  That I will say stuff that turns out to be wrong.  So, I decided to list a few of my more recent mistakes, so folks can read what I say here and on twitter with a huge grain of salt (as depicted long ago by one of my undergrads).
  • The most obvious failed assessment is that I didn't think Trump would get this far. I had underestimated: the appeal of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny; the weakness of the rest of the field; forgotten what a small percentage of the population turns out for primaries and caucuses.  I still am convinced he will lose in the general election because women are more than 50% of the electorate, that the electoral college already favors the Democrats, that the previous GOP candidates learned that they needed to reach out to minorities and Trump is very much doing the opposite of that.  Of course, I will admit that being a mistaken view in November if it comes to that.  
  • I predicted that General Vance would not be named to be the Chief of Defence Staff, but admitted that about this time last year.
  • I thought the Russians would stop at Crimea, but they have kept on keeping on in Ukraine thus far.  I don't expect anything more aggressive, but I definitely think NATO should prepare for the worst in order to discourage it.
What else have I gotten wrong lately?  Really, I want to know.

Of course, if one does not say anything, one can never be wrong.  But silence has never been a strength of mine.  More importantly, if one is going to talk about international politics and not just describe but analyze and even predict, then one is going to be wrong.  The obligation to engage the public and its rewards mean that I will keep risking being wrong.  I just hope that the advanced analytics folks will consider my VARF* to be positive. 
*Value Above Replacement Friedman

No comments: