An epistemological problem

Mark Steyn had a busy new year’s celebration, writing companion columns for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Telegraph. The Sun-Times column brings us news of developments in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague, the lastest of which is Milosevic’s election to the Serbian parliament. Steyn persuasively draws the appropriate conclusion: “Don’t leave Saddam trial to the ‘jet set.'”
In the Telegraph, Steyn notes his predictions of last year and considers the problem he has toting up his record: “[T]he traditional New Year predictions column is a mite trickier than it used to be. Never mind events that have not yet occurred: we now live in a world where there is no agreement on events that have already happened.”
Steyn gives a few examples of the epistemological issue he refers to, but I think we can at least agree that his predictions for 2004 are balm for the soul: “[L]ast year I thought the Americans won an amazing military victory in Iraq; the European media, by contrast, thought the Yanks were bogged down in a bloody Vietnam-style quagmire from which there was no escape save ignominious retreat. I reckon Colonel Muammar Gaddafi abandoned his WMD programme because he didn’t want to wind up like Saddam; the BBC, Reuters and Co figure it is because he was terrified Jacques Chirac might fly in for a state visit and hit on his wife while he was distracted by Dominique de Villepin reciting highlights from his recent volume of poetry.
“I predict that this trend will continue throughout 2004. In November, after Howard Dean, the Democrats’ Mister Angry, gets trounced in the Presidential election, the BBC’s Washington correspondent will declare that the Bush landslide represents a devastating setback for the Administration and is said to have left the President ‘badly shaken.’ For those of us in the real world, the Bush victory will be seen as a victory for Bush.
“In other words, this time next year the Democrats will be deep in recriminations about how they wound up as the party of elderly feminists and greying peacenik professors in a few upper-middle-class college towns, plus the blacks. The key question is whether they can hold off starting the bloodbath until after Election Day.” Steyn’s Telegraph column is “How the West will win and continue to deny it.” (Courtesy of Malcolm Smordin.)


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