Though putting forth "the United Nations against democratic idealism" as one of the dichotomies of the pre-Iraq war period is certainly priceless, I'd say the best part of Packard's mental chunkbloviation was this:
In the winter of 2003, what you thought about the war mattered less to me than how you thought about it. [...] In those tense months, the mark of second-rate minds was absolute certainty one way or the other.
Note the logic here:
1) In the winter of 2003, I, George Packer, was uncertain about the Iraq war.
2) It must be obvious even to the multitude of swine examining my glimmering pearls that I, George Packer, have a first-rate mind.
3) Therefore, anyone who was certain about the Iraq war in the winter of 2003 clearly has nothing more than a second-rate mind.
It'd be easy to have a laugh at the expense of our patient instructor George here. Ha ha ha, that George, what a maroon. Will he and those like him never learn?
Unfortunately, though, this same form of reasoning is endemic to much of the liberal left. Just one example: "in the fall of 2004, I saw no other choice than to swallow my principles and vote for John Kerry; I'm a reasonable person; therefore, only unreasonable people were unwilling to accept the absolute necessity to vote for John Kerry in 2004." Yes, that's familiar territory, but truly, it's just one of many examples I could have chosen. In fact, defining your own position as the only genuinely rational, reasonable one seems to me to be among the favorite pastimes of many liberals.