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Challenge Bigger than Iraq: Defeat or a Widening War -- or Both?
April 9, 2006 11:19 AM   Subscribe

...Consider the stunning magnitude of the failure. Iraq has been the top priority for the world's only superpower for the past three years, and a central one for many regional and international powers. The United States, intent on keeping Iraq together, has spent more resources in that country than any state ever has spent on another in the history of the world... In this perspective, one central measure of success of the intervention in Iraq is this: Three years later, have the prospects of regional and global security increased or decreased? The answer should propel a debate that's bigger than Iraq.
Challenge Bigger than Iraq
See also Defeat or a Widening War -- or Both?
posted by y2karl (60 comments total)

 
the presnit is just trying to put food on my family.
posted by quonsar at 11:41 AM on April 9, 2006


U.S. Study Paints Somber Portrait of Iraqi Discord:
An internal staff report [PDF] by the United States Embassy and the military command in Baghdad provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces "serious" and one "critical." The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top American politicians and military officials.
Graphic/map. According to the report, the only stable part of the country is the Kurdish-controlled north.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:20 PM on April 9, 2006


Stop thinking in terms of what you would view a success - i.e. peace, stability, etc. and you'll find that Iraq is exactly the "success" that the Whitehouse was seeking. They need to destabilize as much of the ME as possible in order to justify an ever increasing (and permanent) military presence in the region in order to control the allocation of middle eastern petrochemical resources in the years to come. Given that scenario, things are progressing quite nicely, thanks.

Hellooooo Iran!
posted by stenseng at 1:11 PM on April 9, 2006


"has spent more resources in that country than any state ever has spent on another in the history of the world"

Any basis for this claim? I'd think that when adjusted for inflation several countries would have spent more during WWII in other countries than the US has spent in Iraq.
posted by Mitheral at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2006


I'm guessing that the capital investment to move from Iraq to Iran and take control of the southwestern oilfields of Iran wouldn't be much compared to how many million more barrels they would gain. Too bad they don't think of what other problems it will cause.
posted by furtive at 2:20 PM on April 9, 2006


Iraqi TV:“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”

Baghdad Burning is compelling reading at the moment, giving an authentic account as to how, and why, Iraq is collapsing into civil war. What is astonishing is that this is happening despite the fact that it seems to be in no-ones interest.
posted by grahamwell at 3:26 PM on April 9, 2006


...The successful use of military power—as Mao Zedong understood when he called America a “paper tiger”—entails a large element of bluff. Vietnam deflated the image that American power could never be challenged. To some extent, the Gulf War of 1991 restored that image, but the restoration was achieved by the limited aims and quick termination of that war. The Clinton successes in the Balkans came in part because all sides bought this lesson of the Gulf War. (With Serbia, the bluff came close to being called again; the Kosovo bombing campaign took 80 days and Russian diplomacy rescued us in the end.)

But now Iraq has once again exposed what military power cannot achieve, short of nuclear weapons. Iran and North Korea have taken notice. Meanwhile, our friends, the Europeans and the Japanese, must be asking themselves: Exactly what sort of security does the American alliance buy, and at what price?

Bush and Cheney have done more than merely bungle a war and damage the Army. They have destroyed the foundation of the post-Cold War world security system, which was the accepted authority of American military power. That reputation is now gone. It cannot be restored simply by retreating from Iraq. This does not mean that every ongoing alliance will now collapse. But they are all more vulnerable than they were before, and once we leave central Iraq, they will be weaker still. As these paper tigers start to blow in the wind, so too will America’s economic security erode.

From this point of view, the fuss over whether we were misled into war—Is the sky blue? Is the grass green?—stands in the way of a deeper debate that should start quite soon and ask this question: Now that Bush and Cheney have screwed up the only successful known model for world security under our leadership, what the devil do we do?
James K. Galbraith
posted by y2karl at 4:22 PM on April 9, 2006


Don't worry about it, America. You will always have your Australian satrapy to lend your overseas adventures an air of legitimacy.
posted by flabdablet at 5:10 PM on April 9, 2006


In the not distant future we will be filling up on gasoline made from natural gas, because the price of crude is high enough that this process( gas to liquid) is now profitable. The Chinese, by buying our debt is funding this war, are also distributing this petroleum via the string of pearls Is the war is successful in driving up the price of oil to make way for the new product. very similar to the Standard Oil /IGFarben agreement of 1929.
posted by hortense at 5:15 PM on April 9, 2006


Adjusted for size, the situation in Iraq is about the same as the El Salvadoran Civil War in the '80's. Remember how that destroyed Reagan, lead to the triumph of Soviet-style communism and the decline of the west?
posted by Jos Bleau at 6:49 PM on April 9, 2006


Jod Bleau, thank you.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:51 PM on April 9, 2006


Jos
posted by ParisParamus at 6:55 PM on April 9, 2006


The only thing stunning is that some people actually think the US effort in Iraq is more a failure than success.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:00 PM on April 9, 2006


Adjusted for size?
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:07 PM on April 9, 2006


I'm not trying to minimize the human suffering of the El Salvadoran Civil War - thousands died, many, many more were harmed.

Likewise the troubles in Iraq involve great suffering. But I haven't seen any evidence that they are greater or of a different nature than that endured by the El Salvadorans.

Oh, and Iraq has about 10 times the population of El Salvador - but only 3 or 4 times the annual death toll, civil wars compared.
posted by Jos Bleau at 7:13 PM on April 9, 2006


2 For a conflict to qualify as a civil war, most academics use the threshold of 1,000 dead, which leads to the inclusion of a good number of low-intensity rural insurgencies.

Current estimates suggest that more than 25,000 Iraqis have been killed in fighting since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 -- a level and rate of killing that is comparable to numerous other conflicts that are commonly described as civil wars, such as those in Lebanon (1975-1990) and Sri Lanka (beginning in 1983).

The organization -- or rather, disorganization -- of the warring communities in Iraq means that a large-scale conventional conflict along the lines of the U.S. Civil War is unlikely to develop. More probable is a gradual escalation of the current "dirty war" between neighborhood militias that have loose ties to national political factions and are fighting almost as much within sectarian lines as across them.

This is roughly what happened in Lebanon and at a lower level in Turkish cities in the late 1970s. Ethnic cleansing will occur not as a systematic, centrally directed campaign (as in Bosnia), but as a result of people moving to escape danger.
civ|il war (siv-el wôr), n. 1 a violent conflict between organized groups within a country

From the second link:
Lebanonization

That, however, rather oversimplifies the contours of the spreading civil war in Iraq. To understand what Iraq will look like, recall the civil war in Lebanon from 1975-1990, a brutal struggle that left perhaps 200,000 people dead in a far smaller country. That war dragged on for fifteen years, during which Lebanon's many-sided political culture constantly realigned itself like a reshaken kaleidoscope...

That is precisely what the civil war in Iraq is beginning to look like today. Baghdad, like Beirut, is fast being transformed into a carcass to be fought over (as are cities like Kirkuk and Mosul). The Kurdish north, the Shiite south, and the Sunni triangle are becoming fortified hinterlands for the struggle to control Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk. Iraq has become a Mad Max world in which angry youths wheel around in jeeps and pickups, don ragtag militia uniforms, and set up checkpoints and roadblocks guns drawn. The Shiite forces eye each other suspiciously and enviously, and their rivalries may yet turn to open warfare and violence. The two big Kurdish parties, the KDP and the PUK, despise each other, and in the past have warred each against the other. The Sunnis too are thoroughly divided. Any of these factions might ally with just about any of the others, then break that alliance only to ally for a period with a former enemy and attack the former ally. There are no rules, only guns. Is it possible to imagine the U.S. armed forces in the midst of this chaos? No.

The chaos of the present moment will certainly get worse, new Iraqi government or not. Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times reports that gun sales in Iraq are booming, with proliferating weapons bazaars that sell "machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers." He adds: "Militia ranks are swelling, too, with growing swarms of young, religious, mostly uneducated young men taking to the streets with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders."

The Sunnis, in particular, are fast building private armies to compete with the 20,000-strong Shiite Badr Brigade, the Mahdi Army, and other Shiite militias, as well as with the Kurdish pesh merga. The Los Angeles Times [5] reports that Sunnis are "stashing guns in their mosques and knitting themselves into militias of their own." It quotes a young Sunni militant: "One little signal and you'll see us all in the streets." Day after day, scores of Iraqis -- mostly Sunni victims of Shiite gangs -- turn up bound and gagged, with electric drill holes in their bones, and bullets in their brains. They are found in mass graves, in vans stuffed with bodies, in ditches. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are fleeing cities and neighborhoods in which they are a minority or feel unsafe, becoming refugees in their own land.

It is precisely this phenomenon that marks the formal start of civil war in Iraq, and it can be traced back to the late summer of 2005, when a steady stream of Sunni murder victims began to turn up in hospital morgues around the country. Since last fall, according to reports from human rights observers, hundreds of dead Sunnis have been piling up in mortuaries each month. In the past month, according to various Iraqi officials, more than 1,700 Sunnis have been kidnapped, tortured, and executed, and fifty or so new bodies are turning up on a typical day. Since last fall, the number of those killed by Shiite death squads has surpassed those killed by the Baathist-led resistance and by the terrorists linked to Al Qaeda's suicide bombers -- as good a marker as any with which to pinpoint the moment when Iraq passed from one stage of political existences to another: Iraq has now gone from a country with a shaky, U.S.-backed regime fighting a resistance movement to a country in which sectarian killings and ethnic cleansing predominates.
posted by y2karl at 7:33 PM on April 9, 2006


ParisParamus: The only thing stunning is that some people actually think the US effort in Iraq is more a failure than success.

We are not losing the war! We've already killed over 30,000 civilians--that's over ten times the number Saddam Hussein took out when he flew those planes into the World Trade Center. Numbers don't lie, but obviously the liberal media do when they keep insisting we've failed.
posted by iconjack at 7:40 PM on April 9, 2006


Current estimates suggest that more than 25,000 Iraqis have been killed in fighting since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 --

And that is the low estimate. Iraq Body Count lists around 35,000 reported civilian deaths post-invasion. As for estimates...
The researchers compared the mortality rate among civilians in Iraq during the 14.6 months prior to the March 2003 invasion with the 17.8 month period following the invasion. The sample group reported 46 deaths prior to the March 2003 and 142 deaths following the invasion. The results were calculated twice, both with and without information from the city of Falluja. The researchers felt the excessive violence from combat in Falluja could skew the overall mortality rates. Excluding information from Falluja, they estimate that 100,000 more Iraqis died than would have been expected had the invasion not occurred. Eighty-four percent of the violent deaths were reported to be caused by the actions of Coalition forces and 95 percent of those deaths were due to air strikes and artillery.
Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion
And that report was from October 2004, well before the civil war ramped up. Those were deaths at the hands of the coalition, for the most part.
posted by y2karl at 7:44 PM on April 9, 2006


Wait, you are considering El Salvador an success?! It boggles the mind.
posted by dopeypanda at 7:44 PM on April 9, 2006


Sunni terrorists and death squads have been killing Shiite civilians since 2003, while the Shiites have been retaliating on an ever increasing scale, including using Iraqi police as death squads. In the last six weeks alone, roughly 3,000 deaths have been attributed to sectarian violence, according to American press outlets. Figures reported by Arabic-language media are even higher.

According to the Iraqi government, more than 40,000 Iraqis have become refugees in the last month. As if the number were not enough cause for concern, consider that this estimate is almost certainly low, since it implies a ratio of deaths to refugees of about 1 to 10. Typical ratios in ethnic cleansing campaigns — except in genocides, which is not what is happening in Iraq — are closer to one to 100.
Divided and Conquered, Iraq Descends Into Civil War
posted by y2karl at 7:53 PM on April 9, 2006


I was told, before the war (2003), that sanctions were killing 100,000 babies per year.

Is the current death toll more or less than that?
posted by Jos Bleau at 8:04 PM on April 9, 2006


Wait, you are considering El Salvador an success?!

See the qualification above:

Remember how that destroyed Reagan, lead to the triumph of Soviet-style communism and the decline of the west?

He was attemtping to make a point about the effect of the atrocites of the civil war in El Salvador on Reagan's foreign policy. At least, that is the most generous interpetation one can give that farrago and mish mash. Forget El Salvador. El Salvador doesn't count. Neither does Iraq. We're winning.
posted by y2karl at 8:05 PM on April 9, 2006


Um, this PP/JB alliance is just..uh...

You know back in college when on the day of a test you would have these two sorority girls sitting next to each other right behind you? And they're reviewing their study notes in the few minutes before the Prof comes in? And they they are telling each other things like "translation" in genetics is a swapping of nucleotide pairs or that a "discant" in medieval music is a drone tone, or some other bit of misinterpreted material? So they compare notes and reinforce each other's misinformation, yet you know it's pointless to say anything so you let them flub the test?

Yeah, the little PP/JB mutual admiration society is JUST LIKE THAT.
posted by sourwookie at 8:08 PM on April 9, 2006


note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.

posted by y2karl at 8:10 PM on April 9, 2006


mea culpa
posted by sourwookie at 8:20 PM on April 9, 2006


The remark about EL Salvador was most likely made in response to Galbraith's comment above: Bush and Cheney have done more than merely bungle a war and damage the Army. They have destroyed the foundation of the post-Cold War world security system, which was the accepted authority of American military power. That reputation is now gone. It cannot be restored simply by retreating from Iraq.

El Salvador didn't hurt Reagan in the long run, therefore defeat in Iraq will not hurt Bush in the long run. Oh, and Saddam was worse. And remember those purple fingers. People voted, it's a democracy. Or something like that.
The moment when Iraq could be held together as a truly unified state has probably passed. But a weak Iraq suits many inside and outside the country and it will still remain a name on the map. American power is steadily ebbing and the British forces are largely confined to their camps around Basra. A ‘national unity government’ may be established but it will not be national, will certainly be disunited and may govern very little. ‘The government could end up being a few buildings in the Green Zone,’ one minister said. The army and police are already split along sectarian and ethnic lines. The Iranians have been the main winners in the struggle for the country. The US has turned out to be militarily and politically weaker than anybody expected. The real question now is whether Iraq will break up with or without an all-out civil war.

Most probably war is coming, but it will not be fought in all parts of Iraq. It will essentially be a battle for Baghdad between Sunni and Shia Arabs. ‘The army will disintegrate in the first moments of the fighting,’ a Kurdish leader told me. ‘The soldiers obey whatever orders they receive from their own communities.’ The parts of the country with a homogeneous population, whether Shia, Sunni or Kurdish, may well stay quiet. But in greater Baghdad, sectarian cleansing is already taking place. The place bears an ever closer resemblance to Beirut thirty years ago. The Shia Arabs have the advantage because they are the majority in the capital, but the Sunni should be able to cling on to their strongholds in the west and south of the city. The new balance of power in Iraq may be decided not by negotiations, but by militiamen fighting street by street.
The end of Iraq

mea culpa

Never try to out-twit a twit. Merely let said twit twit away in blissful twit-norance.
posted by y2karl at 8:25 PM on April 9, 2006


"The remark about EL Salvador was most likely made in response to Galbraith's comment "

no.

The remark comes from beening an active member of the 'underground railroad' that brought Salvadorans fleeing conflict to the US in 1980's.
posted by Jos Bleau at 8:34 PM on April 9, 2006


And you should answer the question:

Is the current death toll greater or lesser than the pre sanction death toll?
posted by Jos Bleau at 8:47 PM on April 9, 2006


Adjusted for size, the situation in Iraq is about the same as the El Salvadoran Civil War in the '80's.

er, what? You're just talking in terms of civilian death tolls, right? I suppose if we had managed to cause a civil war in Iraq without committing just about all the land forces we could spare you'd have a comparable political impact. El Salvador was nowhere near our top priority then. It barely registered to most US citizens, not that that says much good about us... I don't understand the basis of comparison. Oh, Iraq's in the throes of a civil war, but it's a much smaller war than a real civil war... well, yes, we know that, that's one of the few things the American occupation is doing, it's preventing anyone from massing forces – that's an obvious point. (It's also really moving the goalposts of a successful Iraq war. Shipping them cross-country, more like.) How is that a fruitful point? Are you now going to compare Iraq to Grenada?
posted by furiousthought at 9:11 PM on April 9, 2006


Funny, I don't remember the US having 130,000 troops in El Salvador during their civil war.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:13 PM on April 9, 2006


And how much American money was spent on the civil war in El Salvador ?
Spiegel: Professor Stiglitz, at the beginning of the Iraq war, the United States administration was hoping to almost break even in terms of the costs ...

Stiglitz: ... they truly believed the Iraqi people could use their oil revenues to pay for reconstruction.

Spiegel: And now you are estimating the cost of war at levels between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. How do you explain this difference?

Stiglitz: First, the war was much more difficult than President Bush and his government expected. They thought they were going to walk in, everybody would say thank you, and they would set up a democratic government and leave. Now that this war is lasting so much longer, they constantly have to adapt their budget. It rose from $50 billion to $250 billion. Today, the Congressional Budget Office talks about $500 billion or more for this adventure.

Spiegel: That's still by far lower than your own calculations.

Stiglitz: The reported numbers do not even include the full budgetary costs to the government. And the budgetary costs are but a fraction of the costs to the economy as a whole. And compare this to Gulf War number one, where America almost made a profit!

...Spiegel: In the US, the financial costs of war are seldom discussed. It used to be considered a sacrifice to achieve common goals. Why is it different today?

Stiglitz: This is not like a world war where you're attacked. We were attacked in Pearl Harbor, we had to respond. This time, we had a choice, we had to decide how and who we are going to attack ...

Spiegel: ... and if you can afford it.

Stiglitz: Well, we can afford it, that's not the issue. The issue is: $1 trillion or $2 trillion is a lot of money. If our objective is to have stability in the Middle East, secure oil, or extend democracy, you can do a lot of democracy buying for this sum. To put it in context: The whole world spends $50 billion a year on foreign aid. So what we're talking about is multiplying the foreign aid budget 20-fold. Wouldn't you say this could do more for peace and stability and security?
Interview with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz
posted by y2karl at 9:55 PM on April 9, 2006


The truth dawns on Bush
posted by homunculus at 9:56 PM on April 9, 2006


Ack, that's actually the same article as in the second link. Never mind.
posted by homunculus at 9:58 PM on April 9, 2006


Jos:

The current civilian death toll is probably in addition to an ongoing deathtoll similar to the sanctions death toll, since the civilian death toll refered to injuries related to fighting, bombing, etc, while (my understanding is) most of the sanctions death toll was a result of lack of medical infrastructure and the like - ie preventable deaths.

The medical infrastructure situation doesn't seem to have improved much. (The attempt to rebuild it has largely failed/stalled, with the current Army Engineering Corps estimate that less than 10% of the clinics paid for will be completed (15-20 out of 200+), due to the massive cost overruns on the contracts and lack of more funds). Many hospitals are without power more frequently now, etc.

But this is a guess. I'm heading home now, but maybe someone can supply actual data.

It seems likely that the death toll is higher now if you apply consistant criteria.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:16 PM on April 9, 2006


Let them have their Civil War.
Warning:contains nuts
posted by grahamwell at 2:25 AM on April 10, 2006


A future Middle East comprised of the tribalized remmants of various 20th century "nations" of the region may be the least bad outcome of many near disastrous scenarios we could imagine at this juncture. 2 dozen Balkanized and corrupt copies of Lebanon and Somalia replacing the fiction of politically unified and civilly effective areas we can readily call Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia may be inconvenient for the world's energy markets and diplomacy corps, but it is a preferable future to a nuclear armed Iran which can control a weak, leaderless Iraq and intimidate a Wahhabi Sunni led Saudi Arabia.

In Syria, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Jordan, the old leaders and regimes have died, and new alliances and regimes are still being worked out. Uncertianty and unrest are now, and have been, long before the U.S. led "peace plan" and "shuttle diplomacy" efforts of the late 1970's and 80's, the way things are in the Middle East. In my view, neither the West or Asia can hope to have a conventional diplomacy in the area in the next 50 years, but we can choose who we will arm, when, and with what, and we can plan to become independent of the energy resources of the region, and encourage our allies to do the same.

And we don't need or want to be a military presence in the region to accomplish any of that.

Russian oil for the EU and South American and Canadian oil for the US make for far sounder political and economic alliances than trying to "stabilize" the Middle East. Let the Chinese try that latter course, if they think they think OPEC oil is worth it.
posted by paulsc at 4:41 AM on April 10, 2006


when adjusted for inflation several countries would have spent more during WWII in other countries than the US has spent in Iraq.
posted by Mitheral


Any basis for this claim?

Iraq Attack - Not In my Name!
posted by nofundy at 7:03 AM on April 10, 2006


If there ever is a civil war in Iraq, that's certainly better for us than Saddam and/or his sons being there and running the place. But there is no civil war now, and probably won't be.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:07 AM on April 10, 2006


In other words, we justifyably invaded Iraq to protect ourselves. We have a moral, ethical obligation to try and leave the place in the best condition possible. But if we can't do better than a civil war, that's unfortunate, but doesn't negate the purpose and value of the War.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:19 AM on April 10, 2006


The United States, intent on keeping Iraq together, has spent more resources in that country than any state ever has spent on another in the history of the world. -- From the first link

Mitheral: ...when adjusted for inflation several countries would have spent more during WWII in other countries than the US has spent in Iraq.

This is incorrect. According to this CNN news story about the cost of rebuilding Katrina-devestated areas the Marshall Plan cost roughly $13 Billion Dollars, or approximately $100 Billion today. I realize that might not be the best source, but I've heard similar things, for example from the lefty commondreams.org:
The one-year sum is larger than the entire cost of the Marshall Plan, which lasted four years and cost American taxpayers a total of $11.8 billion in 1950 dollars. Adjusted for inflation, the Marshall Plan would have a total cost of $86 billion today, with this difference: The plan helped 16 nations and 270 million people in Europe rebuild after World War II, compared with the Bush Plan in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will mostly pay for military occupation, with trickle down benefits going to 24 million Iraqis and 28 million Afghans.
The conflict in Iraq has cost us approximately 272 Billion as of today (note: I'm not endorsing the source, but the figure seems consistant with what I've seen reported in the major news media).

My (armchair, non-expert, snarky, with no data set) analysis of the difference is that while the Marshall Plan was executed largely by local labor and allied military personnel, the Iraq war is largely being run by civilian contractors who are operating at profit--which regardless of what the government says must cost more than using military personnel. Here comes the snark:

Haliburton my ass.
posted by illovich at 7:57 AM on April 10, 2006


nofundy writes "Any basis for this claim?"

Just the I think part of my statement.

But to speculate further as to why the claim that The United States, intent on keeping Iraq together, has spent more resources in that country than any state ever has spent on another in the history of the world seems a bit hyperbolic:

Both the Germans and British lost several capital ships during WWII. What would the Hood, Bismarck & Tirpitz cost in todays dollars? So did the Americans (several) though that was on their own turf.

The Allies were routinely running 1000 bomber raids during the latter parts of the war, alot of those bombers and their fighter escorts didn't come back. How much would a Lancaster be worth in today's dollars? The shear amount (and cost) of ordinance dropped on Germany makes the bombs dropped on Iraq look like childs play. The RAF with help from the Americans leveled many cities, most famously Dresden. In three hours on the night of Febuary 13th 1945 the British had 1300+ Lancasters dropped over 4000 tons of high explosive and incendinary bombs. More than half of those bombs were dropped in 3 minutes. Less than a day later the Americans dropped 771 tons of bombs from 331 B-17s. That's on one city in one 36 hour period. The British lost 9 Lancasters on that raid alone. How many B-52s have the Americans lost in Iraq?

The Americans have what, 150K troops in Iraq? Wages expended by either the Germans or Allies on foriegn soil alone must have been at least an order of magnitude larger.

What does a main battle tank cost and how many have the Americans lost vs the Germans in Russia or Allies in Germany?

The claim is suspect, I'd just like to see an actual comparison of numbers and some data to back it up.
posted by Mitheral at 8:38 AM on April 10, 2006


But there is no civil war now, and probably won't be.
'Despite the violence, U.S. officials have discounted talk of civil war. However, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday that an 'undeclared civil war' had already been raging for more than a year. 'Is there a civil war? Yes, there is an undeclared civil war that has been there for a year or more,' Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal told The Associated Press. 'All these bodies that are discovered in Baghdad, the slaughter of pilgrims heading to holy sites, the explosions, the destruction, the attacks against the mosques are all part of this.' Kamal said the country would still be spared from all-out sectarian war ``if a strong government is formed, if the security forces are given wide powers and if they are able to defeat the terrorists.'
Official: Iraq in 'Undeclared Civil War'

Consider the source.
posted by y2karl at 8:40 AM on April 10, 2006


Since most of the money spend on the war is just recycled into the US economy, the money is not "lost." (which is not to say it might not be invested more effectively if there was no War).
posted by ParisParamus at 8:46 AM on April 10, 2006


The issue is: $1 trillion or $2 trillion is a lot of money. If our objective is to have stability in the Middle East, secure oil, or extend democracy, you can do a lot of democracy buying for this sum. To put it in context: The whole world spends $50 billion a year on foreign aid. So what we're talking about is multiplying the foreign aid budget 20-fold. Wouldn't you say this could do more for peace and stability and security?

Interview with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz

posted by y2karl at 8:53 AM on April 10, 2006


"Wouldn't you say this could do more for peace and stability and security?"

No. Large rat holes can hold a lot of $$$. Rat holes need to be filled first.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:19 AM on April 10, 2006


[muffled voice] must ... resist ... temptation ... to ... comment ... about filling ratholes ...![/muffled voice]

There! A model of healthy respectful discussion of topics at hand I am!

What does it take for a "civil war?"
There are many historical comparisons to use.
I'm going to venture the situation in Iraq fits more of them than not.
Most especially, the very definition of civil war says that, yup, you guessed it, Iraq is in civil war!
posted by nofundy at 9:37 AM on April 10, 2006


From the first link:
The tragedy of civil war lies not only in what it means for Iraq's people but also in what the consequences would be for international security. The danger of drawing other states in, the spillover potential involving neighboring countries, the erosion of the balance of power in the region in favor of Iran and the creation of a hospitable environment for international terrorism. In the end, it is mostly these international consequences that propel international interventions that justify intrusion into the sovereignty of states.

But despite the prevalence of troubled and troubling governments, states remain the most effective entities for enforcing security. Confronting them is sometimes necessary, but dismantling them is altogether different. In the security arena, both locally and across borders, states remain the best enforcers of order. Many states need to be improved or enhanced; others challenged, sometimes fought. But dismantling states remains one of the greatest dangers in our international system.

As we consider options toward other states not to U.S. liking, such as Iran, the removal of some governments may seem desirable from many vantage points, but not any cost.

The next user of weapons of mass destruction is more likely to be a terror group, such as al-Qaida, than any state. In its history, the United States has deterred the most ruthless and powerful states, including the Soviet Union. Groups such as al-Qaida are constrained only by the limits of their capability. Where there is absence of central authority, they expand. Al-Qaida didn't exist in Iraq before the war but now thrives there despite the presence of the most powerful military in the world.
Three years later, have the prospects of regional and global security increased or decreased?
posted by y2karl at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2006


Increased. Significantly. From Libya, to Egypt, to Lebanon, to Syria to Iraq.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:02 AM on April 10, 2006


(Although, considering the dysfunction of the aforementioned countries, you need to look fairly carefully to see the increase)
posted by ParisParamus at 11:19 AM on April 10, 2006


illovich:

The conflict in Iraq has cost us approximately 272 Billion as of today

No, that's the wrong figure - it includes the military cost of the invasion and the occupation. The Marshall Plan figure is NOT the cost of military opertations in WWII, it was money spent rebuilding. The money spent rebuilding Iraq is (I think) less than 10% of that figure.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:08 PM on April 10, 2006


Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi
The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

...

For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.
No wonder they didn't kill him when they had the chance. He's so much more useful this way.
posted by homunculus at 12:23 PM on April 10, 2006


Assuming he's even still alive, which not everyone believes.
posted by homunculus at 1:12 PM on April 10, 2006


-harlequin-: No, that's the wrong figure - it includes the military cost of the invasion and the occupation. The Marshall Plan figure is NOT the cost of military opertations in WWII, it was money spent rebuilding. The money spent rebuilding Iraq is (I think) less than 10% of that figure.

Actually, I guess that's true. It's a shame that we didn't spend more of that money on rebuilding the country, we might not be having so many problems there now. Too bad we're already giving up.
posted by illovich at 1:17 PM on April 10, 2006


It was a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq, three years ago. I was interviewing the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, in the ballroom of a big hotel in Cairo. Shrewd, amusing, bulky in his superb white robes, he described to me all the disasters he was certain would follow the invasion. The US and British troops would be bogged down in Iraq for years. There would be civil war between Sunnis and Shias. The real beneficiary would be the government in Iran. "And what do the Americans say when you tell them this," I asked? "They don't even listen," he said. Over the last three years, from a ringside seat here in Baghdad, I have watched his predictions come true, stage by stage.
How predictions for Iraq came true
Steps toward democracy in the Arab world, a crucial American goalthat just months ago was cause for optimism — with elections held in Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian areas — are slowing, blocked by legal maneuvers and official changes of heart throughout the Middle East. Analysts and officials say the political rise of Islamists, the chaos in Iraq, the newfound Shiite power in Iraq with its implication for growing Iranian influence, and the sense among some rulers that they can wait out the end of the Bush administration have put the brakes on democratization. "It feels like everything is going back to the bad old days, as if we never went through any changes at all," said Sulaiman al-Hattlan, editor in chief of Forbes Arabia and a prominent Saudi columnist and advocate. "Everyone is convinced now that there was no serious or genuine belief in change from the governments. It was just a reaction to pressure by the international media and the U.S."
Democracy in the Arab World, a U.S. Goal, Falters
posted by y2karl at 4:36 PM on April 10, 2006


User ParisParamus is a troll, but can not be deleted.

Abort, Retry, Ignore?

posted by insomnia_lj at 9:14 PM on April 10, 2006


Increased. Significantly. From Libya, to Egypt, to Lebanon, to Syria to Iraq.

Democracy in the Arab World, a U.S. Goal, Falters:
Steps toward democracy in the Arab world, a crucial American goal that just months ago was cause for optimism--with elections held in Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian areas--are slowing, blocked by legal maneuvers and official changes of heart throughout the Middle East.

Analysts and officials say the political rise of Islamists, the chaos in Iraq, the newfound Shiite power in Iraq with its implication for growing Iranian influence, and the sense among some rulers that they can wait out the end of the Bush administration have put the brakes on democratization.
...
"Iraq has allowed people to say, 'Forget the American style of reform,' " said Taher al-Adwan, editor in chief of the Amman-based newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yawm. "The Americans are not able to present anything to the reformers to encourage them."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:13 PM on April 10, 2006


eggonthefacecornkirkaracha
posted by y2karl at 11:05 PM on April 10, 2006


If you're looking to put egg on the face of people, I'd skip the NY Times.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:07 PM on April 10, 2006


D'oh.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:50 AM on April 11, 2006


Dumb and D'oh-er.
posted by y2karl at 8:26 AM on April 11, 2006


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