Wicked Iraq

There’s a debate going on over at Kevin Drum’s place between Dan Drezner and Marc Lynch over the role of the invasion of Iraq in the recent democratic twitchings going on in the Middle East.

It’s an amusing debate, as each side tries make a conclusive argument one way or the other. But it’s a wicked hard argument to win, as they say in Boston.

Sadly, reality is, as Rittel and Weber say, a “wicked” problem. They defined a wicked problem as:
# There is no definitive formulation of a wicked problem.
# Wicked problems have no stopping rule.
# Solutions to wicked problems are not true-or-false, but good-or-bad.
# There is no immediate and no ultimate test of a solution to a wicked problem.
# Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial-and-error, every attempt counts significantly.
# Wicked problems do not have an enumerable (or an exhaustively describable) set of potential solutions, nor is there a well-described set of permissible operations that may be incorporated into the plan.
# Every wicked problem is essentially unique.
# Every wicked problem can be considered to be a symptom of another problem.
# The existence of a discrepancy in representing a wicked problem can be explained in numerous ways. The choice of explanation determines the nature of the problem’s resolution.
# The planner (designer) has no right to be wrong.

And in their “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,” they suggested that classical failures in planning came from assuming that problems in the wicked sphere (political reality) could be modeled and ‘rationalized’ using the methodologies that can be successful in the tame sphere (engineering).

History only runs one way.

One thought on “Wicked Iraq”

  1. “recent democratic twitchings going on in the Middle East.”

    For the moment just twitchings. If the States wants to get the show on the road they are going to have to start cracking the whip.

    At the moment the twitching is just the “contestants” positioning to see where US resolve is going.
    The “insurgents” in Iraq are watching what Abbas can get away with, Abbas is watching what Iran and the “insurgents” can get away with and the Syrians are watching the Egyptians get away with permitting smuggling arms and Hezbollah operatives into Gaza contrary Bush’s hopes. State does and says nothing and things will start to crumble.
    Now they are offering money
    “An American version of the Euro-Arab Dialogue?”

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