Game Over
October 21, 2006 7:55 AM   Subscribe

...Iraq may have started as a war of choice for the Bush administration, but it has become a war of great and unintended consequences. Immense risks lurk down every strategic road. Given the fractured state of the American body politic, it is almost certainly too late to rally the country behind an all-out war effort -- think tax increases; a war Cabinet; a full mobilization of the National Guard and the Reserves; a civilian reconstruction corps; a larger Army and Marine Corps; longer combat tours for troops; mandatory combat-zone deployments for U.S. diplomats and aid officials; a return to national service; and possibly even a limited draft. Yet absent a plan that puts the nation on either an all-out wartime footing or the firm path to retreat, the United States is largely condemned to some tweaked-around-the-edges variation of the administration's current approach on Iraq of "muddle through and hand over." And America, the experts agree, is already losing that war.
posted by y2karl (60 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One of the internal contradictions in George W. Bush's Iraq War policy has been the risk that arming and training a Shiite-dominated military will encourage it to punish and subjugate the rival Sunni minority, a development that could end up looking a lot like genocide.

While a violently repressed Sunni minority might be the only feasible route for what Bush defines as "complete victory," the Independent Institute's Ivan Eland argues in this guest essay that continued U.S. training of the Shiite-controlled military will likely lead to only a bloodier civil war
Is U.S. Worsening Iraq Civil War?
It is not just the decline in the medical system that has hit Iraqi health. It is the rise in general impoverishment. The Ministry of Labour says that the level of poverty is up by 35 per cent since 2003 and 5.6 million Iraqis live below the poverty line: "At least 40 per cent of this number is living in absolutely desperate conditions."

Three years ago, half the country's population had access to drinkable water. The figure now has dropped to 32 per cent.
Hospitals now a battleground in the bloody civil war
posted by furtive at 8:29 AM on October 21, 2006

Oh, and for a few paragraphs that could have been culled directly from The Onion...
In the first nine months of this year, Bush declared more than twice as many events or outcomes "unacceptable" or "not acceptable" as he did in all of 2005, and nearly four times as many as he did in 2004. He is, in fact, at a presidential career high in denouncing events he considers intolerable. They number 37 so far this year, as opposed to five in 2003, 18 in 2002 and 14 in 2001.

Through a spokesman and then in a televised statement, he declared North Korea's claimed nuclear test "unacceptable" before and after it occurred Oct. 9. But he could also be heard on Jan. 9 lecturing students at an elementary school in Glen Burnie, Md., that their recent scores on math and reading proficiency tests were "unacceptable."

Having a president call something "unacceptable" is not the same as having him order U.S. troops into action. But foreign policy experts say the word is one of the strongest any leader can deploy, since it both broadcasts a national position and conveys an implicit threat to take action if his warnings are disregarded.
Bush Confounded by the 'Unacceptable'
posted by furtive at 8:32 AM on October 21, 2006

Meanwhile, Bush refuses to address this situation, and has stated that he will not change his "strategy" in Iraq. Not surprising, given that this known alcoholic has apparently fallen off the wagon again, given his behavior in Europe this last spring. There was no actual planning for a post-Saddam occupation, and the true colors of this nightmare are really starting to bloom. This is going to get a whole lot worse before it resolves itself, and given the scope of the US base being established in Baghdad, there are a lot of US troops that are going to be picked off like flies over the next 10-15 years. You think that Al-Qaeda needs to get a small nuke into the US to wreak havoc on us? It would be a whole lot easier for them to get one into Baghdad, and take out the majority of US occupational forces in one fell swoop, leaving the US with our asses in the wind. This potential is the one that truly frightens me, as it would signal China, Russia and the rest of the world that we were particularly vulnerable. I want to believe that US military planners are considering this scenario, but whether the White House will even listen to them is an unknown.
posted by dbiedny at 8:35 AM on October 21, 2006

you know, I keep waking up thinking maybe the Americans have finally realised what an awful position they managed to put themselves in especially after the world rallied around them after 9/11, but honestly, I still doubt it.

In America, everything is just a 15 second sound bite and face time. People on the street are so vaguely informed of reality outside thier own small realms it is just so likely come Nov 7, once again a great nation will give into the politics of fear.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 8:45 AM on October 21, 2006

Yet absent a plan that puts the nation on either an all-out wartime footing or the firm path to retreat

It seems absurd to continue to debate this as one of two unacceptable options.

I say put Saddam back in power. Sooner rather than later.
posted by three blind mice at 8:50 AM on October 21, 2006

I say put Saddam back in power. Sooner rather than later.
posted by three blind mice at 8:50 AM PST on October 21 [+] [!]

Heh, who hasn't thought of that already? I'm sure your statement is tongue and cheek, but for the record you'll never get that genie back in the bottle since the Baath party spell is broken and the Shiite majority now has real power. You can bet your three tiny asses that if Saddam were magicaly put back in power the Shiite/Iran population would start a new genocide, if this isn't already a reality as mentioned in the article I first linked to above.
posted by furtive at 8:58 AM on October 21, 2006

MetaFilter -- You Can Bet Your Three Tiny Asses

thanks for the post y2karl,
posted by matteo at 9:10 AM on October 21, 2006

I'm sure your statement is tongue and cheek,

Of course it is. Putting Saddam Hussein back in power is as much of an unrealistic option as "a plan that puts the nation on either an all-out wartime footing or the firm path to retreat."

The choice now is selecting the least worst option.

In my view, finding another brutal dictator to replace Saddam is the least worst option. The genocide is inevitable. Better to let someone else do it.
posted by three blind mice at 9:26 AM on October 21, 2006

Iraq is already in civil war, and even Bush Co. have said we will pull out when that happens. Perhaps that will be Rove's October surprise.
posted by caddis at 9:30 AM on October 21, 2006

We're running out of October.

The world needs to fire America. Preferably by ceasing foreign investment. Man would that be fun.
posted by blacklite at 10:23 AM on October 21, 2006

I am glad to see Pollack is regretting his push for toppling Iraq - he wrote a fabulous book but the premise was still flawed.

I have wondered what he now that, it's nice to hear some commentary from him.

Thanks for the interesting read.
posted by fluffycreature at 10:59 AM on October 21, 2006

The world needs to fire America. Preferably by ceasing foreign investment. Man would that be fun.

Your REALLY don't want to do that. You really, really don't.


We have a volunteer military. Made up by people who, by and large, have nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining (at least pre-Iraq).

Half our population is already in debt up to their ears. We got lots of guns, tanks and bombs, and people who already know how to use them. So you propose impoverishing America and inflating our currency? The result would be to effectively triple our standing Army size in less than a decade and totally entrench the elites who own all the real assets in this country - the people who STARTED this fucking war.

For fuck sake we are already positioning ourselves for the coming oil crunch by taking bases in the middle east. Yeah, Bush fucked it up. But we are there. Your NOT.

We already have bases through out most of world with our weapons staged. You don't.

And we are doing all of this when our relations with the world is with us on TOP. What do YOU think would happen when our status slides? You think the US would just roll over and die? Wrong.

If anything you should have learned what homicidal lunatics we can be. After all: Europe created us by seeding North America with it's convicts, pirates and religious nuts for a couple of centuries. Right?

When divestment happens (yes, it will eventually) and countries like China bail on our T-bills and countries dump the petro dollar. There will be world war. We invaded Iraq on the RUMOR it was switch out of the petro dollar.

And NOBODY, least of all the EU, will be able to militarize in time to compete with us conventionally. NOBODY. You think we only kill brown and yellow people? Let me refresh your memory of a place called Serbia, nice white people, that we bombed the fuck out of. For not much of a reason. Why? Dress rehersal. No matter what you heard, or what Clinton said, it was all about sending a not so subtle message to the then nascent EU about what we could do and when. We will kill white people.

No. Y'all better place nice until we calm the hell down and get our house in order. Help us kick these idiots out of office.

Or it will only get much worse for everybody.

If we go down hard we are taking most of the industrialized world with us.
posted by tkchrist at 11:04 AM on October 21, 2006 [3 favorites]

Yesterday's WaPo had an article detailing three basic strategies for the war to come:
Few officials in either party are talking about an immediate pullout of U.S. combat troops. But interest appears to be growing in several broad ideas. One would be some kind of effort to divide the country along regional lines. Another, favored by many Democrats, is a gradual withdrawal of troops over a set period of time. A third would be a dramatic scaling-back of U.S. ambitions in Iraq, giving up on democracy and focusing only on stability.
To boil it down: the alternatives people are considering are to split the country, leave, or declare an all-out dictatorship to try and stablize things. Making the first option seem a bit unrealistic are the clashes going on in the Shiite southern part of Iraq between different Shiite groups (which also upset the doubtless oversimplified picture of Sunni vs. Shia painted in the US media). But when people talk about "staying the course" or "finishing the job," you have to realize that they're either talking about the forcible partition of the country — which would doubtless be a humanitarian disaster — or the even worse option of installing "stability" by means of a dictator. Anyone who really believed it was about democracy was just plain wrong, and it's time for them to call for the only solution — troop withdrawal. And better sooner than later.
posted by graymouser at 11:04 AM on October 21, 2006

...What the current debate ignores is the benefits of leaving: Americans stop dying and getting injured for a lost cause and the American mood improves, the bad guys are denied an excuse and an easy target, the American military is strengthened through defeat, the door is opened for a new discussion about the proper way to fight terrorism.

America will be humbled when we leave Iraq. Let's recognize this is the bitter pill we must swallow now. It ironically will improve our standing in much of the world as we admit that we need the world's help. It will force us to make a reality of our empty pledge to pursue non-military solutions to the challenge of terrorism.

And what of the enemy? Muslim extremists and terrorists will celebrate our defeat, emboldened even more into believing that they can "win" their war, just as they once defeated the Soviet empire in Afghanistan. It is our punishment and the conundrum: They will celebrate, and they may even be momentarily strengthened. But by stepping off the treadmill, we will also remove so much of the inspiration and certainty that fuels our enemies.
Taking Advantage of Our Defeat in Iraq
posted by y2karl at 11:15 AM on October 21, 2006

A third would be a dramatic scaling-back of U.S. ambitions in Iraq, giving up on democracy and focusing only on stability.

Otherwise known as "Saddam Lite."

Goddamn it. I fought blue in the face over this with the right-wing friends of mine when this thing started. I told them:

"There is a REASON Saddam is in power, Ok. It's not just that the cold war propped him up... it's that Iraq is an artificial construct. It takes a ruthless despot to keep it together. These people do not have the critical mass to incubate democracy yet. Not across sectarian and tribal lines - they don't. Mark my words, Iraq will either Balkanize —and/or— we will install a strongman who will have ultimate authority over a rubber-stamp parliament. The rape rooms will return and there will be a CIA logo on the fucking door."

Ironically these Republicans called me a Racist for saying Ay-rabs can't do democracy. Lol. They have learned the spin well.

This will be THE illustrative failure of the Bush doctrine. they will try to hide it by calling who-ever it is throwing his weight around in Iraq "Mr. President" instead of General. But "Mr. President" will using a standard issue AK to bash Iraqi doors in the middle of night and disappearing people to mass graves.

And we will have to have troops there to over-sea it all. And NOBODY will be fooled.

The last lie for this miserable war will be exposed: It was for Iraqi Democracy.
posted by tkchrist at 11:17 AM on October 21, 2006

The Chinese sell a lot of merchandise in the United States and, in the process, accumulate a lot of dollars. They then loan many of those dollars back to the United States in exchange for all manner of American i.o.u.’s, including Treasury bonds, federal agency bonds, and private-sector debt.

America’s indebtedness to China, as a result, is staggeringly high, although the Bush administration — which needs foreign loans to help finance the budget deficit — seems unfazed. But there is reason for pause. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that China’s holdings of foreign currency and securities would soon top $1 trillion, a fivefold increase since 2000. Roughly 70 percent of that is believed to be in dollars or dollar-based assets.
China’s Milestone, Our Millstone
posted by y2karl at 11:23 AM on October 21, 2006

Oh man tkchrist, that was an unbelievably depressing diatribe. I'm not saying that you aren't totally correct, I just hadn't seen it spelled out quite that bluntly and succinctly before.

Personally, I hope your wrong. Secretly I fear you are right.
posted by quin at 11:27 AM on October 21, 2006

Oh man tkchrist, that was an unbelievably depressing diatribe.

Which one? I've done so many lately.

I went to a family reunion in SE Idaho last month. I made an announcement that I was gonna argue with any and everybody about this war and that I applogise in advance and that the bond of family will still apply. I really wanted to convince them to change thier minds about this war. If they wanted to pop me in the mouth to go for it. I'd forgive them.
posted by tkchrist at 11:35 AM on October 21, 2006

Cheney: If I had to take back anything I've said about Iraq? Well, if you think -- thinking in terms of things that I've been surprised by. I thought that the elections that we went through in '05 would have had a bigger impact on the level of violence than they have, I guess, I'd put it in those terms. I would have thought -- well, I expressed the sentiment some time ago that I thought we were over the hump in terms of violence, I think that was premature. I thought the elections would have created that environment. And it hasn't happened yet...
posted by taosbat at 11:48 AM on October 21, 2006

Hey reklaw, here's a MeTa for you. Take your juvenile BS over there.
posted by taosbat at 11:56 AM on October 21, 2006


"I don't wanna hear 'bout what the bad men are doing no more mommy! It a scart me!... stop talk'n 'bout it or I'm gonna stomp my feet up and down and holdid my breaf. Gaassp-Owwwmffff!"

Ok son. Let the adults talk now. Your momma's call'n you to dinner. Don't say you can't hear her. Because the rest of us can plain-as-day. Run along. You can come back and read about comics and the rock music and kitty videos later. Run along.
posted by tkchrist at 11:58 AM on October 21, 2006

Otherwise known as "Saddam Lite."

why Lite?
posted by matteo at 12:06 PM on October 21, 2006

why Lite?

Because the Righties will like him. At first.
posted by tkchrist at 12:07 PM on October 21, 2006

(I'm serious: why Lite? any strongman will have to kick some serious, ultraviolent ass to rein in the current chaos)
posted by matteo at 12:07 PM on October 21, 2006

matteo makes an excellent point: given the usual dynamics of US backed dictatorships, a strongman in Iraq will have to be particularly vicious as he establishes "stability" in the country, with death squads preventing the rise of any coherent opposition. Assuming that they pick a Shiite (which seems likely given the pattern to date), this would mean taking down the Sunnis and the opposition Shiites. The very pretty rhetoric about democracy has become a sick joke, with thousands and thousands more dead Iraqis as the punchline.
posted by graymouser at 12:22 PM on October 21, 2006

I'm serious too. Yeah he will be a Bad Guy (tm). He will kill people. He will torture people.

But he will not have a funny mustache and won't wear uniforms. He will have a good US PR firm.

Most importantly he will claim to not be a patsy to Bush and he will claim that these measures are all temporary.

Begrudgingly Bush will give him "room" to get his house in order. With appropriate reluctance. You know. The temporary sacrifice to democracy and all that.
posted by tkchrist at 12:23 PM on October 21, 2006

Google should just buy Iraq. Then do no evil.
posted by srboisvert at 12:31 PM on October 21, 2006

This one tkchrist. Though your subsiquesnt ones haven't made me feel much better either. I will say however, that I have virtually no urge to pop you in the mouth so you must be doing something right.
posted by quin at 12:57 PM on October 21, 2006

The temporary sacrifice to democracy and all that

I hear you, but I still think that an all-out genocidal leader (we're talking a 1,000 Srebrenicas here, as pointed out above), ie the only effective one at this point, couldn't get open American support -- no matter who's President next, McCain or Jebby or the ghost of Barry Goldwater.
there are too many cameras around now, and Iraq's a brand name in the news now, the genocide would get worldwide coverage (in the non-US media at least)

no way. not to mention, nobody in his or her (Hillary's) right mind would give up all that sweet, sweet oil
posted by matteo at 1:15 PM on October 21, 2006

great vid on the guardian website about the 'handover' process...
posted by delmoi at 1:41 PM on October 21, 2006

I made an announcement that I was gonna argue with any and everybody about this war and that I applogise in advance and that the bond of family will still apply.

Charming, tkchrist. It must be hard work being right all the time.
posted by dhammond at 1:48 PM on October 21, 2006

there are a lot of US troops that are going to be picked off like flies over the next 10-15 years.

The sniper video which dbiedny linked has been making some folks pretty mad.
posted by homunculus at 1:48 PM on October 21, 2006

Thank you for the video, delmoi.

We'll "conduct a reassessment" next year, maybe.

U.S. to Hand Iraq a New Timetable on Security Role

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 — The Bush administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to address sectarian divisions and assume a larger role in securing the country, senior American officials said.

Details of the blueprint, which is to be presented to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki before the end of the year and would be carried out over the next year and beyond, are still being devised. But the officials said that for the first time Iraq was likely to be asked to agree to a schedule of specific milestones, like disarming sectarian militias, and to a broad set of other political, economic and military benchmarks intended to stabilize the country.

Although the plan would not threaten Mr. Maliki with a withdrawal of American troops, several officials said the Bush administration would consider changes in military strategy and other penalties if Iraq balked at adopting it or failed to meet critical benchmarks within it.

A senior Pentagon official involved in drafting the blueprint said that Iraqi officials were being consulted as the plan evolved and would be invited to sign off on the milestones before the end of the year. But he added, “If the Iraqis fail to come back to us on this, we would have to conduct a reassessment” of the American strategy in Iraq...
posted by taosbat at 2:53 PM on October 21, 2006

Oh god, that sounds like project management comes to Iraq.
posted by furtive at 3:02 PM on October 21, 2006

Bush Confounded by the 'Unacceptable'

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Especially when President Bush often ends up having to accept the "unacceptable" anyway. For example, in May 2003 he said "we will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea" and "will not settle for anything less than the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program." Now that North Korea has the bomb, looks like we can "allow some of the world's worst leaders to develop the world's worst weapons."*

* Paul Wolfowitz used similar language in his December 2002 speech "Building the Bridge to a More Peaceful Future." Building the Bridge to a More Peaceful starting a war on false pretenses.

U.S. to Hand Iraq a New Timetable on Security Role
"I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn." -- George W. Bush
posted by kirkaracha at 3:05 PM on October 21, 2006

Let me guess: they're calling this plan "No Iraq Left Behind."
posted by wobh at 3:08 PM on October 21, 2006

It must be hard work being right all the time.

I can imagine. It's hard enough being right 65% of the time.
posted by tkchrist at 3:50 PM on October 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

TKChrist rant.

Actually, usually most empires in decline withdraw their troops from expensive engagements or forward positions. If America tanked, we'd bring our boys home and close our foreign bases.

Second, why the hell would we triple our army with enlistments when we can barely afford it at its present state? Want a good example of a super power army without money? Go check out the Russian Army. Its pathetic backed up with nuclear weapons. People join the army for the material gain, a bankrupt American government will not subsidize the population by increasing benefits to pay for an enlarged army. There's a set limit on the size of the armed forces, they're not going to increase it because there's three times the number of people wanting in.

Heck, if they follow the classic collapse process I described above, they'll probably reduce the number of troops since there's no longer any foreign deployments needed for them to fill.

Hell. World War? Go on and smoke your crack. What would really happen would be a number of years with a bad economic situation, but nothing that the country couldn't overcome eventually, and probably emerge better for it.

Oh, and all my ancestors arrived in America in 1600's and 1700's, none of 'em were pirates, zealots, or criminals. ;)
posted by Atreides at 6:52 PM on October 21, 2006

Atreides : Oh, and all my ancestors arrived in America in 1600's and 1700's, none of 'em were pirates, zealots, or criminals. ;)

Hmm, most of my ancestors arrived in America in the 1600's and 1700's as well. Many of them were pirates, zealots, and criminals.

Then there is my dad's side of the family, we don't talk about them...
posted by quin at 7:05 PM on October 21, 2006

Why are we still talking about this? Wasn't this "Mission Accomplished" quite some time ago?
posted by spock at 8:37 PM on October 21, 2006

"'Nobody could have foreseen that invading and occupying a country that had done nothing to us would have caused so many problems" ?
posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on October 21, 2006

Nuts, most of my ancestors arrived in America in the 1600's, too; but, they seem to have all been zealots.
posted by taosbat at 9:39 PM on October 21, 2006

The best is still yet to some. It will probably look something like a mashup of the Tet offensive, the Alamo and the Fall of Saigon. Man, those Texans sure know how to run a war.
posted by warbaby at 7:01 AM on October 22, 2006

On Duty at the Alamo
posted by taosbat at 8:54 AM on October 22, 2006

The year the Iraq war began was the year we lost it, Pollack's delusions aside.
posted by raysmj at 12:14 PM on October 22, 2006

Many Iraqis Look to Gunmen as Protectors--... A senior American military official estimated there were 23 militias operating in Baghdad alone. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:06 PM on October 22, 2006

Hell. World War? Go on and smoke your crack. What would really happen would be a number of years with a bad economic situation, but nothing that the country couldn't overcome eventually, and probably emerge better for it.

First off, why you gotta be an insulting prick right out of the gate? Smoke crack? Fuck you. If anybody is high— YOU are— if you believe what we are doing right now isn't a prelude to the neocon wet dream of a world war. Why do you think we are in Iraq and Central Asia? The war on Terrah? Jesus. Toke up, bro. In the mind of the neocon New American Century dudes we are striking while we are the worlds ONLY un-challenged military power.

We are in Iraq to get a strategic hedge on the most valuable real-estate on the planet that sits over the only asset on the planet (other than water) that will matter in 50 years (barring some miracle revolution in technology), IE: oil.

Yeah, Mr. History. So. You know HOW we overcame "a number of years with a bad economic situation" in the past? WAR. That's how. If we didn't we would have collapsed. To paraphrase the Smith Barney ad: We earn money the old fasioned way. We STEAL it.

We will STEAL the land the oil is on. And the EU and China won’t just let that happen. And the stakes will be very high if our economy was to be so threatened on disinvestment. Think about what a happened to Argentina. Not that THAT is the same scenario, but it does keep strategic planners up late worrying about something similar here.

Now. Imagine if Argentina had a super-power sized military? Get it yet?

What did Argentina do when collapse threatened and they DID'NT have a large force? They STILL picked a war with England over the Falklands.

Sure. It's that type of world upset is unlikely to happen soon because it would COST the EU and China more than they would get out of it.

However. Eventually, if we continue going into debt like we are, they will HAVE too disinvest somewhat. And they will have to compete seriously for oil. The combination of the two simultaneously?


And bud. Our Army is not going ANYWHERE. The cold war is over and we STILL have NATO. We are STILL on the Korean peninsula. In the Pacific. On the north sea. On the Mediterranean. Historically armies INCREASE in size as a precursor to collapse. To prevent collapse. Understand? You have to understand this is what we will do to PREVENT all out collapse. It's what we have done. We are acting preemptively to prevent our collapse now. Though the plan was very, very poor.

Yes we will close bases. But we will still be the only power conventionally positioned to wage a global war. And we will stay that way for a while. It would take decades for China or the EU to militarize effectively.

The lower middle class, the bulk of society, doesn't have any assets except cash and labor (their bodies). If our currency collapses like Argentina’s it inflates and cash is worthless. Relative pay scales will go down. So people will join the military because those slots will stay open for a while and the rich (remember as inflation goes up so do THIER real wealth) will take up the slack to pay for an enlarged military in the short term. Like Rome did.

And you have to use it up BEFORE you can no longer afford it. That is called war, my friend.

We have time to change course… yes we do. Lot’s of time. But if the EU and China were to act irrationally now? All bets are off my friend. And that was the warning I was giving to the other poster.
posted by tkchrist at 4:40 PM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Second, why the hell would we triple our army with enlistments when we can barely afford it at its present state?

PS. You are so wrong. We can barely afford Social Security.

The military we can afford.

They will cut social security to do so.
posted by tkchrist at 4:45 PM on October 22, 2006

First off, why you gotta be an insulting prick right out of the gate? Smoke crack? Fuck you.

Actually. I waited until I was about halfway through to call your idea insane. Least I can claim the moral high ground for the area of vulgarity. Whatever thats worth on the Blue, anyways.

And no, the historical answer to depress economies has not been war. The Great Depression lasted more than a decade before the United States entered into the Second World War, and while FDR didn't try to avoid it, he certainly didn't act in a vacuum.

Lets go back to often forgotten economic slump in the 1890's, remember that one? We didn't go to war for six years and that was the Spanish-American War, and at that time, the size of the conflict had neglible to insignificant effects on the economy. It was no economic cure (in fact, the country was pretty much rebounding from it by the time the war came up).

And, like I said, the military will only take what they need. In fact, the military does like economic down turns not because a lot of people join the military, but they then have the option to pick and choose who they let join. They don't throw open the sluice gates and take everyone in. They choose the best educated and behaved. The Great Depression circa 2015 will not result in the new American 7 million man army.

So we look at Argentina...a country on a continent ruled by military dictatorships for nearly two centuries. In fact, it was a military regime in charge of the nation at the time of the Falklands War. Gee, I wonder how willing such a government would be to go to war. If Argentina had been a centuries old established democracy at the time of the war, then you might have had a point with your comparison to the United States. I'm sure this will send you scrambling for one that does match it better.

As is, the Neocons have pretty much shot themselves in the foot and then stuffed that foot in their mouths. They had their chance and now the Republicans are going to lose control of at least the House this november. They're going bye bye. Any American strategy is going to revolve around global dominance, but we're not going to invade Europe to do so. As Iraq has shown, its not worth it to do so at the end of a gun.

As for Post-Cold War military developements, our military actually decreased by hundreds of thousands, we closed down dozens of army bases, mothballed hundreds of naval ships, and slashed our military budget.

The era of national land grabs is over and with the headache that has become Iraq, the closest thing to it in the 21st century has pretty much been shown a certifiable failure. The future will be dictated by the good ol' fashion American style of capitalism. Invade the other countries, not with soldiers, but with goods and merchandise. We use NATO to help guarantee that the countries which join are drawn closer to American/Western style economies, which in turn, benefit our trade interests. NATO is not about military power, its about economic gain.
posted by Atreides at 5:53 AM on October 23, 2006

I can only say I HOPE your right.

But your not.
posted by tkchrist at 12:11 PM on October 23, 2006

This morning, coverage of U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey’s Baghdad press conference was briefly interrupted.

The TurkishPress notes that “the hall was plunged into darkness by one of Baghdad’s regular power cuts, despite the fact the venue was in the capital’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, also home to the US embassy.” ...
it’s part of daily life for residents in Baghdad. Electricity levels in the city are at an all-time low. Residents now receive an average of just 2.4 hours per day, compared to 16-24 hours before the U.S. invasion.

posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on October 24, 2006

and so much for the bullshit that they're a real government now: ...or the removal of ministers deemed incompetent or corrupt. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:54 PM on October 24, 2006

Although encouraged to develop positive scenarios, the workshop participants struggled to do so. But even the less-negative scenarios, such as The Long Slog to Overcome Ethnic and Sectarian Politics, required some leaps of faith and careful coordinated cooperation of the many actors (any of whom could have derailed the positive process). This may reflect general pessimism on the part of the participants, but it would be unwise to ignore what they were able to do and what they found difficult to do.

Three major themes emerged in all the scenarios: the helpfulness (or lack thereof) of Iraq's neighbors, the capabilities of Iraqi security forces (army and police), and the extent to which the dominant ethnic and sectarian groups can forge a governing consensus.

An important dynamic in the scenarios is the waning of U.S. influence and the waxing of Iranian influence in the region. The United States must engage all of Iraq's neighbors to piece together policies and actions to move Iraq and the region away from conflict and toward peace and stability. For example, the scenario Neighboring Helping Hands depends on the constructive role of neighboring countries, some of which (Syria and Iran) have tenuous relationships with the United States. Their helpfulness will not materialize as a natural extension of existing relationships or policies, or by serendipity. Rather, current U.S. policies, particularly with respect to Syria and Iran, would have to change. A major uncertainty is whether Iran can be engaged and persuaded to be a constructive influence.

The negative scenarios (Descent into Hell, "Lebanonization," and Ethnic-Sectarian Politics Derail the Political Process) are not predicated on any surprising event or U.S. blunder. Rather, they are based on forces the experts saw as inexorable at worst or unsurprising at best. The participants found it difficult to imagine effective and realistic countermeasures to avoid these kinds of negative outcomes. The strategies the participants outline do not attempt to detail the specific steps to be taken, but only broadly sketch the kinds of initiatives required. Even without going into details, which would be more difficult, accomplishing them would be daunting...
Scenarios for the Insurgency in Iraq
posted by y2karl at 10:02 AM on October 26, 2006

Simply staying is winning, according to Bush: ... As he himself said, he believes that the only way to lose is to leave. Therefore anything else is winning -- anything else at all.

Even if no progress is being made -- even if things are getting worse, rather than better -- simply staying is winning.

So we're winning. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:15 AM on October 27, 2006

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