Some Iraq cost metrics on a one year anniversary

Evaluating the costs one year after Cheney’s prediction of “the last throes …of the insurgency”

Now seems as appropriate time as ever to update and take stock of the costs incurred in the U.S. action in Iraq. It has been three years since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the Iraqi theater (May 2, 2003), and exactly one year since Vice President Cheney announced “the last throes… of the insurgency” (June 20, 2005).

Figure 1 depicts the human cost of the war. The blue line is the cumulative fatalities (in-theater) up to June 18, with three unconfirmed fatalities; the red line is cumulative wounded in action.
iraqcas.gif

Figure 1: Cumulative fatalities and wounded in Iraq, up to June 18. Source: Iraq Coalition Casualities

There have been more than 758 fatalities and 4989 wounded since Cheney’s statement (the figures are from the end of June 2005). Figure 2 shows cumulative budget authority for DoD (green line), as well as the sum of DoD, Foreign and Diplomatic activities, and Veterans Affairs (blue line), as estimated by the Congressional Research Service, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global
War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” April 2006
, for fiscal years 2002-2006.

iraqcosts.gif

Figure 2: Cumulative budget authority, and CBO Baseine, in billions of current dollars, fiscal years. Sources: Congressional Research Service, “The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global
War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” April 2006
and CBO, An Alternative Budget Path Assuming a Reduction in Spending for Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and in support of the Global War on Terrorism,” February 24, 2006, and author’s calculations.

Approximating monthly expenditures by linear interpolation, the U.S. has spent another $98 billion (using budget authority as a proxy) since Cheney’s pronouncement.

 
The graph also presents the cumulative budget outlay (red line) using the CBO’s January 2006 baseline. The figure also presents the upper limit estimates expressed by then OMB Director Mitch Daniell before the beginning of hostilities, as well as Larry Lindsey’s upper limit estimate.

 
Note: (1)The projections do not include Foreign Assistance and Diplomatic Affairs and Veterans Administration outlays; (2) the figures are in in current dollars; and (3) resulting additional interest and debt service costs are not included.

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58 thoughts on “Some Iraq cost metrics on a one year anniversary

  1. ramster

    you may also want to note Iraqi civilian deaths, which are somewhere between 50 and 150 thousand (the low end is from Iraq Body Count, which is likely an undercount since it’s based on reported deaths…the high end comes from an extrapolation of the Lancet study figures). Let’s pick an intermediate value of 75000. It’s reasonable to assume that the number of Iraqi civilians wounded is much higher than this number.
    So there you have it.
    2500 US troops dead
    13000 wounded
    75000 Iraqi civilians dead
    300 billion dollars spent
    It’s amazing the damage that results when you break a country. I hope it was worth it.

  2. pgl

    Add to what ramster said – the reduction in economic activity in Iraq, the decrease in Iraqi oil production, the increase in Al Qaeda recruits, the loss of trust in the US government around the world, …

  3. Thomas James

    Large, permanent military bases in the Middle East: that’s the primary worth and, I would say, the primary intention, driver and reason for the war. But careful! That view of the war probably amounts to a conspiracy theory as it runs contrary to what the media and nearly every word from the Bush administration’s mouth suggests.

  4. Joseph Somsel

    As military historians like Victor Davis Hansen repeatedly point out, Imperial Japan was essentially defeated 6 months into WWII after Midway. Yet the costliest battles, like Iwo Jima and Okinawa, lay years ahead and came near the end.
    Politically, the insurgents were defeated last year when al Quada and the Sunnis started fighting each other.
    While disorders continue, the war IS over. The elected Iraqi government is formed and functioning and has developed their own exit strategy for US troops! They say the US can pull its troops out of 4 of the 19 provinces with more to come.
    That said, I do not expect that we will leave Iraq anymore than we left Germany. Positioning of US military assets in that central country will be a great aid as the “Long War” continues.

  5. kuros

    “Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt.”
    Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138

  6. Hal

    “The cost of anything is the foregone alternative.” In order to evaluate the costs of Iraq, you need to estimate what would have happened if the invasion had not occured. Hope your crystal ball is a good one.

  7. Anonymous

    Somsel, your delusional. The Insurgents have ‘hardly’ lost nor is that government “exist” outside US control. The Sunnis actually have good cells inside Bagdad/greenzone now and will simply weardown US forces ala North Vietnam.
    The Neo-Cons committed treason with 9-11 and now with the Iraq war have committed murder. They should be thrown in jail, all of them.

  8. algernon

    I believe it was Mancur Olsen who wrote about the tendency of empires to destroy themselves by burdening their economies with military over-extension. It’s not just Iraq & Afghanistan; we have military in Europe, Japan, Korea, et al.–as if those countries couldn’t afford to defend themselves.
    Like Rome, the US adds in the soon-to-explode welfare spending (SS & Medicare).

  9. menzie chinn

    Joseph Somsel: I seem to recall that general elections were successfully undertaken several months before the Tet offensive in 1968. So I guess it depends which analogy one makes.

    On a separate matter, while I liked the one piece of Dr. Hanson’s writings that I read, my perusal of his records indicates that he received his Ph.D. in Classics (although his dissertation could have encompassed military history as well).

    Hal: I disagree — if one undertakes a cost-benefit analysis, then the benefits can be interpreted as being relative to the counterfactual. I took my charge to be to evaluate the costs.

  10. TI

    “I hope it was worth it.” Well, this is the scariest thing in this. It must be worth it and more, how could you explain otherwise the fact that this is going on and on. Is Iraq worth that? Maybe. But whole Middle East and Caspian area are definitely, they are a bargain with that price. That is why so few in the US complain seriously about the expenses. Iraq itself is just a beachhead, and the decisive battles are ahead.
    But if we see the cost-effectiveness of the Iraq war from this viewpoint, the Iran war seems inevitable, in fact it becomes the only rational choice here. And there will be more than Iran. The US has just had its first skirmishes with Russia and China over Iran. China is active in an outflanking operation in Saudi-Arabia. We will see.

  11. Guest

    I am pleased to see so many comments here acknowledging the long term wisdon of US intervention in the Middle East. What are the costs of leaving this area of the world to manage itself? Looking out over the next 20 to 50 years, what kind of disasters were (and still are) impending considering the volatile mix of Islamic radicalism, illegitimate Arab monarchies, tremendous and growing oil wealth, a WMD armed Israel and potentially WMD armed Islamic or Arab Nationalist states. If the US had intervened militarily in Europe in 1938 many lives would have been sacrificed, but tens of millions would have been saved.

  12. Another Guest

    Guest: I am intrigued by your ‘what if’ scenario regarding WWII. What was the cause of WWII? Just evil nations bent on world domination or was it over resources and control over those resources? Japan and Germany needed oil and crafted a strategy based around gaining access to oil. The countries in the way were roadblocks. As for the Islamic radicalism and illegitimate Arab nations, isn’t the U.S. fanning these groups by its not so subtle attempt to secure the very same resources that Germany and Japan wanted so desperately. Ask yourself who is the Aggressor in 2006!

  13. Guest

    Another Guest:
    I’m afraid my worldview is not quite as Hobbesian as yours. I don’t believe in historical resource reductionism. I think there are things like ideas that matter. These ideas underly the fabric of our current political systems. By the nature of your comments, I assume that you subscribe to the Marx based view that the modern industrial democracies are fundamentally imperailist fascistic systems. I disagree. While imperfect, they represent significant advances in the political rights of the indiviual. These systems have become hegemonic as we enter the 21st Century and I believe they are worth defending and maintaining. I’m convinced that history’s final judgement will be that WW2 was the defining event of our era, not Vietnam. The foolish mistakes made by the Western democracies that allowed WW2 to start cannot be repeated. The Cold War against Soviet totalitarianism was executed well. The preemptive war against Milosovic was brilliant in concept and execution. We attempting the same in the Middle East now. It is more complicated than the Balkans and requires more sacrifice, but the stakes are incredibly higher.
    Are you an isolationist or an active advocate of Stalinist Ba’athism and Islamo-fascism?

  14. Another Guest

    Guest:
    Good question and even better response. I am not an isolationist in the strict sense but I believe we should be careful in the manner in which we butt in to other people’s affairs. What if other countries had come to the aid of Mexico in the Mexican American war, for example? The U.S.was clearly engaged in an expansionist war designed to increase our own territorial holdings. Using your criteria, we should have been stopped. If we had, thousands of Native American lives would have been saved and the southwest would still be part of Mexico. Yes, Milosivic did not deserve to get away with what he was doing, but we do not know what would have happened if we did not intercede. We do not know if the if Europe and the U.S. had gotten involved earlier in checking German and Japanese aggression would have saved millions of lives and neither do you. It might have, or it could have given rise to an expansionist Soviet Union that engaged in a war even more horrible that WWII. Who knows. I appreciate your idealism, but people usually struggle over resources. Going war to preserve freedom sounds better that going to war to preserve one’s standard of living.

  15. ramster

    “Iraq itself is just a beachhead, and the decisive battles are ahead.”

    “We attempting the same in the Middle East now. It is more complicated than the Balkans and requires more sacrifice, but the stakes are incredibly higher.”

    “That said, I do not expect that we will leave Iraq anymore than we left Germany. Positioning of US military assets in that central country will be a great aid as the “Long War” continues.”

    I’m staggered by these views. I keep hearing about this “long war” between the U.S. and apparently everyone else – Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, France, the EU…everyone but India and Japan apparently. It’s spoken of as this great but necessary burden that the US must shoulder…or else. Or else what? My assumption was that after 9/11, the US’s paramount foreign policy interest was to ensure that there was never another mass casualty terrorist attack on US soil, especially not one with WMDs. I haven’t the slightest idea how the Long War is supposed to accomplish this. Instead, it strikes me as likely resulting in the exact opposite by fomenting at best, suspicion and distrust of US motives and at worst outright hatred, motivating terrorists for a generation.

    Maybe the idea is that by demonstrating American willingness and ability to squash anyone, future threats will be cowed into submission. Well first off, the Iraqi debacle has done nothing but give the impression of US incompetence and impotence. Some advocate scorched earth tactics to make people truly fear the US (e.g. Mark Levin in National Review) but this will cement the global view that the US is guided by no values other than serving its own power and greed. I’m Canadian but I’ve always been sympathetic to the US and I’ve always been the lone guy in the room defending US policy amidst much typical Canadian distrust of the US and its motives. I’m finding that harder and harder to do.

    In addition, many have defended arbitrary presidential powers in wartime. These same people say this war will last a generation. You put those two things together and you get a pretty ugly image. Between its apparent willingness to indefinitely erode freedom at home and to repeatedly initiate “preventative” wars abroad, the US seems to have lost its moral moorings and become the thing that its has often been accused of (unjustly in my opinion) – an Imperial power whose only purpose is to defend its global mercenary instincts.

    It feels to me like this Long War is an imperial exercise designed to preserve American hegemony in the Middle East in a time of new, rising great powers (India and China). The irony is that in addition to the dubious morality of this endeavor, it’s also likely to be stunningly counterproductive and will hasten the decline of American influence that it was intended to postpone. We already see this in the Iraq debacle. The only hope is that the venal cabal behind this will be out of power soon and replaced with a saner administration, Democrat or Republican, that will begin to repair the damage. Let’s just hope the lame ducks don’t start another war.

  16. Thomas James

    Ramster, in the lexicon of foreign policy, “terror” is largely a code word fed to the US domestic population as a cover for resource imperialism. Here’s a rule of thumb: judge history not from what (especially) leaders say, judge from observable facts. If from those facts “it feels to you” that X is true (despite leaders saying Y), X is probably true, Y notwithstanding. Y will have some truth to it (it has to to act as a cover); X will have more.

  17. Guest

    Ramster:
    I appreciate your views. I think they are understandable, but misguided. The idea that the current US policy in the Middle East is the result of a “cabal” by neo-cons is a myth. For example, look up “Carter Doctrine” in Wikipedia. I see much consistency in US policy. The wars against Germany and Japan were also preemptive in nature. Germany never attacked the United States and Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was clearly provoked by our total embargo of oil exports to them in the summer of 1941. Our entire fleet was positioned at our Hawaiian colony in order to threaten interdiction of their only remaining oil supplies from Indonesia. This was practically an act of war that they responded to by attacking our fleet. Do you really think the ’91 Gulf War was waged to protect Kuwaiti sovereignity? Why, to make the world safe for Kuwaiti playboys to gamble on the Riviera? No, it was a preemptive war to stop a mad totalitarian from gaining hegemony over the world’s oil supply. Even if the US had no resource interest in the area, it would have been unwise to twiddle our thumbs while a all powerful Saddam/Saladin faced off against his Jewish and Persian arch-nemseses.
    I highly recommend reading Winston Churchill’s Nobel prize winning “Memoirs of the Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm”. The potential for chaos and destruction in the Middle East pales in comparison even to Europe of that era. As an open democratic society, our biggest weakness is allowing our own domestic politics to weaken our resolve and to thwart our decision making capabilities. That is the sole point of terrorism, to foment domestic political opposition in the enemy country. If you will read Churchill’s book, you will see how France and to a lesser extent Britain were paralyzed by domestic politics and unable to counter the fascist threats.
    It’s fair and part of our system for the political opposition to exploit the less appealing aspects of the Iraq War – within certain limits. So far, I think the Democratic Party has more or less respected those limits. They will turn up the heat and push the edge of that envelope for a few months ahead of the mid-term elections, then they will revert back to their same stance: mild vocal criticism, but basically the same policy as the Bush Administration.

  18. Guest

    To Guest:
    Thanks for your reply. As you can likely discern from my response to Ramster, I understand that resources play an important role in historical national decision-making. However, it is not the only factor. You may also notice that I don’t have a text book view of the innate wonderfulness of the US. Having said that, on a net basis, and in comparison to great powers in history that have come before, I believe the US to have many admirable qualities and when evil, is the lesser of available evils.
    In terms of managing geopolitics, the US uses all tools in the toolbox. Of these, the classic basics are agreed to be diplomacy, threat of force and force. It’s quite easy to sit in one’s armchair and nitpick the Iraq occupation ie body counts, car bombs and people not liking us very much. It’s more difficult to look ahead to a world with $150 per barrel oil and a crumbling sanction containment system that – as I recall – was creating great resentment in the Arab world. Remember Osama fulminating about the 2 million Iraqi children that were dying every year because the US sanctions? The foreign troops that are garrisoned on Muslim holy soil? (who, by the way, are no longer there because Saddam is no longer a threat to SA). If the Baathists had been left in power, they would have reconstituted themselves. The US would be viewed as impotent and a real WMD arms race would have begun between Israel, Iraq and Iran, three countries willing to defend their competing ideologies by using them. All on top of the global oil supply. For that reason, I believe the US had to position armoured ground troops in the region for the long term. That was the reason for the Iraq War. It was a pretext to attempt to stabilize the region for the long term.

  19. Guest

    Another book I highly recommend is Michael Mandelbaum’s “Goliath. How America Acts as the World Government”

  20. Joseph Somsel

    A reasonable question that Professor Chinn has raised and has provided some data is, how much does it cost to be the world’s policeman? A good model of US behavior is “The Pentagon’s New Map” where the author says the role of the US as hegemon is to bring disorderly areas of the world into an orderly world scheme. Areas of disorder can (and have) served as hatcheries for infectious disorder.
    While an orderly planet is certainly in the interests of almost all citizens of the globe, why are we the ones to largely pay for it? We do appreciate contributions by some countries like the UK, Poland, etc. but we still have the larger burden.
    With a defense department using, what?, 3 or 4% of GDP, we’re still not too highly burdened.

  21. Guest

    Yes, one of Mandelbaum’s points is that the “unpopularity” of the US in the world is similar to the “unpopularity” of the federal government with the US. People complain about it all the time, but it doesn’t mean they want it to go away.
    The current global system is functioning very well in many ways. It’s incredible that no coalition of countries has formed to check the power of the US in the aftermath of the Cold War. Anti-US media may pretend this is happening, but it is not. There is still competition between powers – the US even competes with its closest ally England in many spheres, but that is much different than the types of alliances that were created to check the power of Napoleon, Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany and the Axis powers and Soviet Russia. Did you know that senior Chinese military staff are attending the massive US naval war exercises in the Pacific this week as invited guests?

  22. Anonymous

    OK, I’ll abandon my misguided idealism (particularly about purported American values) and enter the world of realpolitik to try and make sense of things. Given this, it’s fair to say that American interest in the Middle East is almost purely driven by strategic interests related to oil. After all, nobody’s talking about invaging Congo or Sudan. The commenters “guest” (I think there are two of you) connect US policy to oil. So here’s what I can’t figure out. I apologize that it involves a lot of numbers but they’re pretty germane to the discussion.

    The US currently consumes about a quarter of global oil production, or about 22 million barrels per day. At a price of $70/barrel, that’s about $500 billion/year. Not exactly chump change, even for as large an economy as the US (whose GDP is about 12 trillion using PPP – so oil is a tad over 4% of GDP). Now of this oil consumption, 43% is for gasoline for motor vehicles. So US vehicle gas consumption corresponds to about 10% of global oil consumption. Now imagine that over a 10 year period (i.e. enough time for the total fleet of vehicles to turn over), US vehicle mileage doubled from its current low 20s mpg to mid 40s. That cuts US oil consumption by about 20% (and global consumption by 5%). What does this do? It cuts global oil demand and drives down oil prices, potentially by $10s per barrel…which would save the US a few hundred billion dollars per year in oil bills.

    How is this achieved? With a gas tax that sets a gas price floor at $4/gallon (phased in in 25 cent increments per quarter over a few years). The gas tax is truly revenue neutral and is given back as an income tax reduction. Note that this isn’t riduculous “reduce dependancy on foreign oil” nonsense. It’s reduce dependancy on oil period. The market response is for people to abandon SUVs in favor of hybrids (or even plug-in hybrids) and/or smaller cars. Over time, the desired consumption reduction is achieved. Oil consumption reduces as a percentage of GDP and the strategic importance of the middle east is proportionately reduced.

    Now people will say that this is a non-starter and the American people just won’t accept a gas tax (even a revenue neutral one). But yet people are apparently willing to sign up for perpetual war? with the attendant death of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands? with the attendant erosion of global respect for American values and leadership, not to mention American self-respect? What I just oulined isn’t utopian. It doesn’t depend on technological magic. It’s completely practical and can be done with minimal, if any, economic disruption. Yet the people who dismiss it out of hand blithly accect the costs of war that Mr. Chin outlines in the original post. I don’t get it

  23. Guest

    Anonymous:
    Good post.
    There are several large differneces between the Congo and the Middle East, which are only partly related to oil. The most important is the now century old conflict between Zionism and Islam. Israel is nuclear armed and eager to use its weapons if necessary. Since 1979, Islamic radicalism has been on the rise, partly driven by Israeli existence (it is the official government policy of Iran to destroy the state of Israel, as they have been commanded by Allah). Assume for a moment that the US does not need to import oil. Oil is still a crucial factor because of the huge wealth transfers that will continue to flow to the region with or without US consumption. Probably the greatest risk right now in the region is the threat of a Wahhabist coup in one of the illegitimate Arab sheikdoms. In whose interest is it to have a Bin Laden figure controlling the Saudi oil income? This was the wake-up call of 9/11. Add the potential for WMD acquistion by said Islamists and the stage is set for a showdown between two very hard bitten and determined groups of people, who are driven by deep seated immutable religious convictions. If you can spin me a similar scenario for Central Africa, I might be convinced to support intervention in that region also.
    Although I fully support American foreign policy in the Middle East, it doesn’t stop me from agreeing with your all of your suggestions for domestic energy policy, which I think is a complete disaster. Stopping American oil consumption, however, will not reduce the dangers in the Middle East.
    In the afterword to the abridged edition of “Memoirs of WW2″ written the thick of the Cold War in 1955, Churchill predicted that the Soviet Union would collapse on its own and that the biggest challenge the West would face moving forward would be the Arab-Israeli conflict. Do you think Tony Blair read that? You bet.

  24. Joseph Somsel

    The arguments AGAINST increased gasoline taxes usually resolve to:
    1) it won’t help reduce demand and
    2) the money taken from our pockets at the pump will get blown by politicians
    I find these persuasive.

  25. Guest

    I’m not sure what role a gasoline tax should play, but I am not much of a free marketer on this issue. I think a radical New Deal sized government intervention is necessary in the energy and transportation sectors of the economy. I’m talking about a government led total restructuring of the auto, airline and trucking industries. Once they are rationalized, they can be slowly led back to privatization. Generally, I only believe the government needs to step in during crises. This is one.

  26. michael

    Interesting comments in this thread, in a deranged sort of way. Seems there’s alot of people who have so thoroughly internalized colonialism they can’t even recognize their own racism. Seems those blinders also prevent them from recognizing fascism.
    America is a military dictatorship. I’d say wake up and smell the fascism but you cannot awaken those who are pretending to be asleep.
    A journey into the most savage war in the world
    My travels in the Democratic Vacuum of Congo
    This is the story of the deadliest war since Adolf Hitlers armies marched across Europe. It is a war that has not ended. But is also the story of a trail of blood that leads directly to you: to your remote control, to your mobile phone, to your laptop and to your diamond necklace. In the TV series Lost, a group of plane crash survivors believe they are stranded alone on a desert island, until one day they discover a dense metal cable leading out into the ocean and the world beyond. The Democratic Republic of Congo is full of those cables, mysterious connections that show how a seemingly isolated tribal war is in reality something very different.
    This is Congo, 2006.
    In Bukavu, a 29-year-old human rights campaigner called Bertrand Bisimwa summarised his countrys situation for me with cruel concision. Since the nineteenth century, when the world looks at Congo it sees a pile of riches with some black people inconveniently sitting on top of them. They eradicate the Congolese people so they can possess the mines and resources. They destroy us because we are an inconvenience. As he speaks, I picture the raped women with bullets burying through their intestines and try to weigh them against the piles of blood-soaked electronic goods sitting beneath my Christmas tree with their little chunks of Congolese metal whirring inside. Bertrand smiles and says, Tell me who are the savages? Us, or you?

  27. menzie chinn

    First Guest I guess I might find your case a little persuasive if this Administration had listened to Shinseki and Clark, as opposed to Rumsfeld and Feith. Clearly, these people have difficulty implementing policy, so you’ve got to wonder if they’re up to conducting the struggle in the manner you’ve posited.

    Joseph Somsel: The final goods and services national defense component of GDP in 2006q1 was 4.7%. That figure excludes any transfers or subsidies that might be associated with national defense, so it’s a lower bound.

    Elsewhere I’ve discussed gasoline taxes. Most economists believe there is a price elasticity of gasoline; and of oil as well. The demand-reduction effects versus the revenue issues can be considered separately, and indeed should be, since the better a tax is at reducing consumption, the worse it is at gathering revenue, ceteris paribus.

  28. Joseph Somsel

    Prof. Chinn,
    Thanks for the defense consumption data. I do remember that during the Cold War we were spending 7.5% of GDP on defense. (http://www.heritage.org/research/features/issues/issuearea/Defense.cfm#CHT)
    While the lower the better for defense spending, since it is really non-productive overhead, the Founding Fathers knew that order, freedom, and tranquility are never free. Even on a local scene, every local government has to support a police force and a criminal justice system. This is the fundamental justification for any government.
    While we in the US certainly benefit from a planet free from piracy, war, and social disorder, so do other peoples. I’d love to hear suggestions as to how to spread the burden – ie how to solve the free rider problem as to international relations.

  29. Guest

    “Guest I guess I might find your case a little persuasive if this Administration had listened to Shinseki and Clark, as opposed to Rumsfeld and Feith. Clearly, these people have difficulty implementing policy, so you’ve got to wonder if they’re up to conducting the struggle in the manner you’ve posited.”
    I don’t see how any of the arguments I made for active military intervention in the Middle East are validated or invalidated by the competence of implementation of the policy. In other words, if you prove that the policy was implemented poorly, it doesn’t prove that the wisdom of the policy itself is flawed.
    It difficult to separate at this stage of history valid objective criticisms of the execution of the Iraq invasion/occupation from the heated domestic political rhetoric that surrounds our elections. I ascribe the Shenseki criticism of troop levels to political rhetoric. I know it was a staple of Democratic Party talking points during the Kerry campaign. I’m sure if Rumsfeld had followed that advice it would have provoked a slew of equally devastating second guesses related to the amount of troops involved. Although it can be argued that more troops used properly might have prevented some of the looting that followed the invasion, it is clear that more troops on the ground ever since would have only increased the number of targets available for the roadside bombing terrorists.
    As to whether Bush is up to the task of managing US intervention, maybe you are right. I’m not a huge George Bush fan. Do we need better leaders in the US? Well, yes. At the same time, I don’t think it is realistic to have expected Iraq to turn into an ideal Jeffersonian democracy with Zurich’s infrastructure in a couple of years. Oh yeah, and our ideal Jeffersonian democracy was one where only land-owning white males were allowed to vote and slavery was legal.
    I’m not sure Iraq will be able to survive as one country. It may be destined to split into 3 different countries. If so, I believe it would have happened whether or not the US intervened. That’s why Saddam pretended he had WMD when he really didn’t. His position in power there was very precarious. It appears there were only 3 possible options for Iraq moving forward:
    1) continued repression and mass murder by the Baathist dictatorship, which eventually with massive oil income and failing sactions would have reconstituted itself as a threat to the region, maybe with Uday or Kusay in power.
    2) fall of Saddam via internal revolt of the Shia and Kurds, which would have involved a high intensity bloodbath that would make today’s low intensity civil war look like a WWF match. This probably would have involved active military intervention by at least Turkey, Syria and Iran. Who’s knows how that would have been resolved.
    3) the current state of affairs. Not pretty, but in my view the world and the region is much better off that the US is prepared to sacrifice in an attempt to manage the situation toward normalcy.

  30. menzie chinn

    Guest: I was following the story behind Shinseki’s assessment before the alleged onset of “Democratic talking points”. If you read the testimony, you will see that it an assessment based upon experience in previous counter-insurgency programs, i.e., ratios of combat personnel to population. Hence, I lend more credence to the analysis of a combat veteran who has served his entire career in the military over one who never served, and has nothing more than unfinished graduate coursework in political science (i.e., Vice President Cheney).

    The ability to implement a particular strategy is clearly important. If it is desirable to do “X” which yields benefits of Z, but the costs of implementing “X” is very high, due to poor implementation capabilities, then clearly this alters the benefit-cost calculus to the detriment of proceeding along the path of “X”. In other words, if the political leadership is intent on ignoring the advice of those with expertise, then all bets are off.

    I do believe in engagement in the region. I just don’t think the first resort should be toward military action, when military action is not necessarily the most efficacious approach to achieving goals of stabiizing the region.

  31. Guest

    “I do believe in engagement in the region. I just don’t think the first resort should be toward military action, when military action is not necessarily the most efficacious approach to achieving goals of stabiizing the region.”
    Now that’s more like it. Perfectly valid stance. This is what the discussion is about. I don’t believe this is an either or situation, though. I don’t operate as a Bush or Republican Party apologist, but they have been very active conducting diplomacy in the region and all over the world. Military action against Saddam was never the first choice. I seem to recall 12 years of sanctions that were failing and clearly unsustainable. Military action in the case of Iraq was a risky and bold venture. I have been arguing that the risks of doing nothing were and are higher, especially considering the several vital long term issues. If you wish to argue with me, I would prefer you addressed my argument.
    As to Shenseki….my father, a McGovern Democrat, was a career Air Force officer who served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. I assure you, the Pentagon is very political. Shenseki knew that there was no the political will to position that many troops in Iraq. Therefore he was covering his rear with advice he knew couldn’t be practically implemented. Moreover, the Democrats did politicize his comments.
    I do think it is valid to maintain that the administration blew the Iraq occupation because of their ironic traditional conservative aversion to “nation-building”. I don’t agree with this though. I don’t think a small army of liberal State Department functionaries and another 150,000 soldiers/policemen wouldn’t have substantially changed the situation. Saddam was a creation of Iraq. I am afraid it can only be held together by someone using his methods. However, I believe history has proven that grips on power such as his are temporary in nature. Therefore, ultimately Iraq would have dissolved into civil war anyway. Better we are there to manage its breakup and prevent a massive slaughter leading to a wider regional disturbance.
    People who have real responsibility for the security of the country and the world have to consider many hypotheticals. How would you suggest we react if there was a Wahhabist coup in Riyadh? Should we negotiate with an Osama Bin Laden figure who would now control a major portion of the global oil supply and all the riches that come with it? If your decision is forcible regime change, please keep in mind the difficulties of projecting power on the other side of the globe. Air strikes will not dislodge them from power and airborne troops don’t have the armor and supply chain required to attack and occupy a city the size of Riyadh. It takes at least a full year to relocate sizeable armored forces and their supply chain from US bases to bases in the Middle East. And that assumes that bases are available. If our allies in Kuwait and the Qatar have fallen, we are out of luck in that regard. We will then be forced to mount a well telegraphed amphibious assault. This would be extremely difficult. Even the Normandy invasion couldn’t have been accomplished without massive secure launching points closeby in Britain.
    I believe the Iraq War was necessary because it is in the vital national interest and the vital interest of the current Western led world political and economic order to position substantial armored ground troops in the region for the long term.

  32. Joseph Somsel

    I must say that “Guest” pretty much summarized my views (largely) much better than I could have done.
    I will add that the Administration has used a form of tough love with the Iraqis all along. We’ve haven’t tried to solve all of the Iraqi problems but just enough of them so that they can learn some lessons in self-government while surviving. They need to have learned that self-government requires self-discipline and a willingness to compromise. They’ve glimpsed Chaos and it should have scared them.
    We’re not trying to “win hearts and minds” – we’re letting them learn to be free men. What they do with that freedom is their responsiblity.

  33. Guest

    I wanted to add that while I am fearful that Iraq will dissovle into 3 autonomous regions, I hope I am wrong. If these 3 groups can learn to function together in a broadly representative, somewhat democratic governemnt that can defuse most of the sectarian violence, it will be no doubt the greatest nation-building achievement of all time….all started by a guy who mocked the concept during the 2000 election campaign.

  34. BobN

    Guest –”Should we negotiate with an Osama Bin Laden figure who would now control a major portion of the global oil supply and all the riches that come with it?…I believe the Iraq War was necessary because it is in the vital national interest and the vital interest of the current Western led world political and economic order to position substantial armored ground troops in the region for the long term.”
    So, in other words, it was all about oil after all.

  35. Guest

    (Sighs in exhaustion) I welcome argument with my views. However, I would have hoped that anyone who cared to read and attempt to understand my posts under this thread would at least no longer think it appropriate to make that statement.

  36. BobN

    Guest, I don’t understand your complaint. In almost every one of your posts you stated that your primary reason for supporting the Iraq war and long term occupation was the danger that some undesirable Islamist group would have control of the world’s oil supply.

  37. Guest

    That problem in isolation might be acceptable, especially if like Venezuela, they continued to sell oil to the West and did not use their income to foment conflict and disorder. Unfortunately, the world is more complicated that that. I tried to explain some of that in an earlier post. Rather than repeat myself in other words, here is what I wrote earlier. Perhaps you missed it.
    “The security problems in the Middle East are only partly related to oil. The central issue is the now century old conflict between Zionism and Islam. Israel is nuclear armed and eager to use its weapons if necessary. Since 1979, Islamic radicalism has been on the rise, partly driven by Israeli existence (it is the official government policy of Iran to destroy the state of Israel, as they have been commanded by Allah). Assume for a moment that the US does not need to import oil. Oil is still a crucial factor because of the huge wealth transfers that will continue to flow to the region with or without US consumption. Probably the greatest risk right now in the region is the threat of a Wahhabist coup in one of the illegitimate Arab sheikdoms. In whose interest is it to have a Bin Laden figure controlling the Saudi oil income? This was the wake-up call of 9/11. Add the potential for WMD acquistion by said Islamists and the stage is set for a showdown between two very hard bitten and determined groups of people, who are driven by deep seated immutable religious convictions.”
    In addition to the Israel/Sunni conflict I described, there is also the Sunni/Shia or Arab/Persian rivalry in the region. As we can see in Iraq and from the 80′s Iran/Iraq war, this is a competition that has a natural trajectory toward violent resolution. This is why the WMD issue is so critical in the region. These are two groups (three including the Israelis) who would not hesitate to use WMD.
    It would be correct to say that because of oil this area of the world is an especially undesirable place to have a nuclear conflict or major conventional war. However, I would still recommend intervention if oil were not involved.

  38. BobN

    Okay, we’ve got the oil issue, the Israel/Sunni issue, and the Sunni/Shia issue. Exactly which of these problems has been improved by the invasion of Iraq — other than the oil.
    The way it turned out is that Bin Laden wanted secularist Sadaam removed from power in Iraq. Mission accomplished. As a side effect, fundamentalist Shiites take over and make Iraq an ally to axis-of-evil Iran. (One of the first acts of the new Iraqi prime minister was to travel to Tehran to lay flowers at the grave of Ayatollah Khomeini). We’ve managed to turn the opinion of most of the world against us. The jihadists now see the U.S., despite all of its technical wizardry, as a paper tiger that is bogged down in an endless asymetrical insurgency, just like the Soviets in Afghanistan. And Bin Laden chortles that the U.S. treasury is being bled dry with endless deficits. How’s that all workin’ out fer ya.

  39. Valuethinker

    Joseph Somsel
    You are mad if you think we are anything but *losing* in Iraq. 1000 people a month are turning up in the Baghdad mortuary, with their arms bound behind their back, bones already broken, evidence of power tools used against kneecaps and elbows, and then finally a ‘coup de grace’ bullet to the head.
    This is a country on the brink of chaos, where our troops sit in their fortified bunkers, patrol in large armoured conveys, and basically wait for the Big Bug Out. Meanwhile every night they take mortar attacks, and when the convoys drive they get hit with IEDs. Getting in amongst the people is strictly forbidden because of the likelihood of casualties on both sides.
    Germany or Japan? Six months after the end of the war, those countries were at peace! We’re not going to have some Iwo Jima against the Sunni insurgents, here. What macho BS is that?
    Read any Brookings report (the most authoritative measure of what is actually going on in the country). On most measures (electric power production, death due to violence, etc.) the country is in worse shape than it was in May, 2003.
    There is no part of the country (other than Kurdistan) which can be said to be at peace, and no part that US or British forces control.
    Take it from us Brits, who have fought dozens of guerilla wars in the last 100 years. We are on the brink of losing this one.
    What follows will be, at least, chaos. Before a pro Iranian Shiite Republic will emerge.
    Let’s worry about Afghanistan. It might not be too late, there.
    Iraq is lost. It’s just a matter of how the next Administration (to Blair as well as to Bush) chooses to cover up ‘strategic withdrawal’ (read ‘bug out’).
    What amazes me is there are still people in America who could possibly have any different view. What evidence are they seeing, what hard data, that tells them this?

  40. Valuethinker

    Menzie
    I am entirely amazed anyone could write a column about Iraq without mentioning what is happening to the *people* of Iraq.
    It is widely understood the US is mimicking Creighton Abrams’ post Westmoreland strategy in Vietnam. Keep to the bases, and make big armoured sweeps that don’t incur casualties, but conversely allow the enemy to slip away.
    So US casualties drop. Meanwhile law and order is a joke: Iraq is in a genocidal war between the different factions, with the militias ruling the streets and controlling the military and police. The head of the Baghdad Coroner’s service is in hiding, after he admitted that 700 people a month were turning up in the mortuary, all showing evidence of having been tortured and/ or executed.
    On any measure of wellbeing, the Iraqi people are worse off than they were in May 2003.
    Who cares what the US deficit is, in comparison to this humanitarian and strategic disaster?

  41. menzie chinn

    Valuethinker: Indeed, almost every single measure (oil production, electricity, water, etc.) is at or below pre-invasion levels. I’m also well aware of the large number of civilian and other casualties in Iraq. The casualty count has been estimated by various organizations, but the link I provided in the post provides estimates as well.

    However, my intent was to tabulate the costs to the United States, as a first step toward Americans making a benefit-cost assessment. If others want to add in the costs borne by the Iraqis, I think that can only weight the case against this venture even more.

  42. Guest

    Pretty impressive list of problems in Iraq. I don’t really understand the argument though. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that Iraq is a very difficult environment. It was before the US invasion. It was going to continue to be so in the future without any US invasion. Either Saddam was going to remain in power and continue his atrocities, which in sum total make today’s unrest in Iraq look like a day in the park, or he was going to be overthrown internally. This I believe was very likely if the sanction system had survived. This would have resulted in an overt civil war that would have involved a much wider bloodbath. It almost certainly would have drawn in local military intervention from Syria, Turkey Iran and perhaps non-local forces such as China, Pakistan, or Russia. So, if you think you can wish away the problems in Iraq by being anti-”neo-con”, you are dreaming. If you think the US has the power to wave a magic wand and make Iraq into Luxembourg overnight, you are naive. You folks are great at pointing out problems, but you don’t have an alternative plan for stabiliziing the region for the long term. 12 years of diplomacy had failed in Iraq. The lesson of 9-11 was that if you think you can turn inward, “not hurt anybody” and take care of your own business, it will bite you in the rear anyway.

  43. menzie chinn

    Guest: See this NBER working paper. The comparison, in my mind, is containment versus intervention. Davis et al. happen to come down on the side of intervention, but in my mind, at least they have the right framework in mind: expected benefits versus expected costs, calculated in present value terms (even if they profoundly underestimate the costs, as viewed from what I thought, ex ante, the costs of intervention would be).

  44. ramster

    Menzie: I’m curious about your implication that when Americans do a cost benefit analysis of the war, only American casualties and costs count. There must be something to be said about the moral costs to Americans of them inflicting harm to others. Assuming such costs to be zero suggests a pretty amoral worldview on part of Americans. I’m not saying that Americans are amoral and I see why you phrased things in that way, as a way of constraining the discussion. Still, I’m leery of even framing the dicsussion in a manner where the life and death of Iraqis has no value for consideration.

    Guest: You say you don’t see the argument when others present the cost of the war and ask for people to present alternative plans for “long term stabilization of the region”. This is a curious shifting of onus. I don’t think anyone’s arguing that the status quo prior to the war was ideal. Yet the reality of the middle east for 60 years is one where almost all countries in the region share the same charaacteristics, differing only in degree: authoritarianism, disfunctionality, venal corruption, militaristic ambitions, human rights violations, susceptibility to militant islam and borders that are arbitrary lines on a map written by a Brit and a Frenchman who had little concern for the relationship of these lines to the people and history of the region. Sitting alongside this lovely collection of pathologies, we have the perennial Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the split between Shia and Sunni Islam and the presence of a big chunk of the world’s oil, in a time of oil scarcity with increasing demand.

    Amidst all this, you castigate us for not having a solution for stabilizing the region. That suggests an amazing degree of hubris. The reality is that stability will never come to the region. The best that can be acomplished is managing the situation. We’ve had three Arab-Israeli wars, two oil embargos, two gulf wars, one Islamic revolution, etc. The desire for a stabliizing solution is understandable given this history but the notion that adding fuel to the fire with a series of wars will somehow achieve this end is a fantasy. A fantasy with devestating consequencies, which we’ve seen already in Iraq and we’ll see elsewhere if things continue in the way in which you seem to advocate.

    Yes the status quo with Saddam in power sucked and yes, 9/11 had a devestating human, material and psychological impact on the American people. But the policies you advocate won’t help. I agree that al al-quaeda inspired Islamic revolution in Saudi Arabia is unacceptable and should be met with military intervention. But the US is also going to have to live with the fact that it won’t be able to throw its weight around the middle east with impunity. The best path forward is a defusing of tensions. Forward progress towards a Palestinian state and good-faith discussions with Iran would be a good start. The inevitable permanent US base in Iraq (Kurdistan?) and Qatar provide an adequate US military presence in the region to keep things in line without imflaming tensions like the Saudi bases do. This is the path forward, not a “Long War” with utopian fantasy as a goal.

  45. Guest

    Ramster:
    “I agree that al al-quaeda inspired Islamic revolution in Saudi Arabia is unacceptable and should be met with military intervention.”
    I don’t think our positions are that far apart.
    Please refer to my earlier post about armored divisions and the difficulty of transporting them and their supply chains from places like Fort Carson and Fort Stewart. Before Iraq II we had inadequate force in the region to deal with this and many other contingencies. To me, that was the true purpose of the war and princpal long term benefit. Yes, it comes with a cost, both in dollars and image. In my opinion that is the cost benefit analysis that needs to be done. However, it can’t be done because we cannot quantify the future costs of not taking these actions.
    “Yes the status quo with Saddam in power sucked ”
    Again, what was the future of Iraq under Saddam? Look out 10, 20, 30 years or more. Sanctions and containment were becoming a sham. More and more oil wealth was flowing into his coffers, while we were portrayed as murdering millions of Iraqi children annually by denying them medicine. (if true, what are the human costs of containment vrs the present policy?). With oil prices skyrocketing and certainly going higher and higher over the time frame I’m referring to, immense wealth would have flowed to the Baathists, perhaps under Uday or Kusay. Saddamist Iraq would have no doubt reconstituted itself, likely with French, Russian and Chinese support. Just like Europe in the late 30′s, now you are going to have to fight the same war over again at tremendous cost.
    “The inevitable permanent US base in Iraq (Kurdistan?) and Qatar provide an adequate US military presence in the region to keep things in line without imflaming tensions like the Saudi bases do.”
    I don’t think you realize that today there is not a single American or foreign troop or military facility in Saudi Arabia. Our primary air base has been moved to Qatar. Our ground troops and armor are based primarily in Kuwait and Iraq. Because of Iraq II, we were able to remove one of the primary motivations for a Wahhabist revolution in SA. This was done under cover of the Iraq War to assure that it did not appear that Bin Laden had ordered us out, thus further enhancing his stature in the Arab World.

  46. Guest

    RE the NBER paper
    I’d like to see them write a paper ex ante perspective of say 1938, calculating the estimated costs of invading Germany to topple Hitler from power. We know now what the costs of doing nothing were, so we could make a fair comparison.
    (Note that in 1938 the German Army was a very weak force, incapable of standing up against a much larger French Army. A violent insurgency in occupied Germany would have been likely in this case. There was no Nazi insurgency in 1945 and afterward because the country was too devastated and Naziism had been thoroughly discredited.)

  47. ramster

    I can’t believe this requires saying but WWII was a war between great powers and a war of annihilation. The Nazis ultimate ambitions was to exterminate entire civilizations (e.g. Jews, Slavs) and literally conquer the world and they had the realistic means to do so. Japanese ambition was comparably ambitious (though arguably marginally less genocidal).

    Now Al-Quaeda and their ilk certainly spend nights in their caves in the Hindu Kush entertaining fantasies of a global Islamic Caliphate but I think it’s safe to say that there are few who consider that goal within the realm of possibility. Yes they have the desire and capacity to wreak havoc but we’re not exactly talking about the Wehrmacht rolling over the English countryside and the Russian steppes. To conflate the situation in the Middle East to dealing with the Nazis in WWII significantly erodes the credibility of your argument in my mind (and I suspect I’m not alone in that regard).

  48. Guest

    As I suggested in an earlier post, read Volume 1 of Churchill’s Memoirs “The Gathering Storm”. In the afterword to the abridged edition, written in 1955 in the thick of the Cold War, Churchill predicts that the Soviet Union will collapse on itself and the greatest crisis facing the West will be the Arab Israeli conflict. And I doubt he forsaw the true role of oil at that point in history. It is no coincidence that Britain was the only major European state to actively participate in Iraq II. Nazi Germany was a weak power also as late at 1938. Saddam and Al Queda are weak and non infuential today only because they have been preempted, much like Milosovec. It is one of the supreme ironies of history and life that pacifism causes war.

  49. Joseph Somsel

    Prof. Chinn, VT, and Anonymous,
    Wars are politics and victory in Iraq will be in the social and political behavior of the Iraqis. They’ve voted repeatedly. They have formed a consensus on a multiethnic government. They have raised and fielded an army willing to fight and die for the idea of a unified Iraqi state. They are beginning the policing of local areas. They killed the chief external terrorist and rolled up his network. They are negotiating with the hold-out Baathist elements.
    Order, justice, and peace are returning to the land. Perfect, it ain’t, but it will be getting better. Once order prevails, then economic expansion will follow.
    Call me “mad” and “delusional” if you will but the best information on the critical parameters, the political ones, supports my views and reflects a reasonable chain of events for transforming dictatorship into a civil state amidst a hostile environment.
    History will have to call this debate.
    As to Mr. Guest’s reference to Winston Churchill’s memoirs of WWII, I?ve just finished the unabridged set and found it very wise and insightful – highly recommended. Excellent examples of effective memos too. Picked up an abridged volume of his work on WWI, ‘World Crisis.’

  50. Guest

    I started with the abridged edition also. Liked it so much I went back and read all six full volumes. Will get to World Crisis one day.

  51. Anonymous

    Delusional is what you are Somsel. Deal with that reality and move on. The US has lost, the “Iraqi” government is nothing more than a puppet. I suspect by 1-2 years after US withdrawel, they will be disbanded into warring sections.
    Saddam NEVER was going to be a “Major” power, literally. Even saying he was is ignorent much like saying the Nazi’s were a “weak” power in 1938. You obviously don’t read history(they were much further along than the rest of the world militarily by that point.

  52. Joseph Somsel

    Which specific observable facts that I listed above are delusions?
    Did the Iraqis not vote, not once but several times? Remember the purple thumbs?
    Has not a government been established based on popular will with broad factional representation and internal political compromise?
    Is there not an Iraqi army in the field, fighting alone or along side the Coalition forces?
    Didn’t Zaraqawi die and weren’t hundreds of his followers captured?
    Are there not negotiations about amnesty being undertaken?
    I see no reason to doubt the above facts on the ground in Iraq and you’ve offered no rebuttal. Things could still go wrong, of course, but good people in Iraq are working to make Iraq a civilized country with a responsible government.
    I ask you to join me in wishing them well.

  53. Karl Hallowell

    Anonymous, you wrote:

    Saddam NEVER was going to be a “Major” power, literally. Even saying he was is ignorent much like saying the Nazi’s were a “weak” power in 1938. You obviously don’t read history(they were much further along than the rest of the world militarily by that point.

    Saddam isn’t a major power now because he was stopped in 1991. I imagine the original poster mean 1936 when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland. That was a clear violation of international law and France alone could have retaken the region without much effort.

    In 1991, Saddam Hussein was poised to roll into Saudi Arabia (which would put him in charge of three of the largest oil producing countries) and is estimated to have been about a year from building nuclear weapons. With a decent stock of nuclear weapons, he’d easily win a rematch with Iran and keep the superpowers at bay. Even if he couldn’t reach the US, Saddam could reach US allies. I don’t know how much empire Hussein could control, but I think he’d be able to put together a “major power”.

  54. Anonymous

    Saddam never planned going to SA, if he wanted to, he would have. He wanted Kuwait and its old age belief that it was actually part of Iraq(along with the rosources of course). Considering the US told him it was ok, then backed out, led to the confrontation.
    Give me a break on the denial, zionist progaganda isn’t needed. I hear enough if it in daily life.

  55. Outsider

    Interesting discussion!
    WW1 and WW11 started in the Alsace Lorraine region. A vital iron producing area.
    The most contested real esate on earth is a town north of Istanbul controlling trade routes {per Peter Keating}.
    Armageddan is a mispronounced term for Har Megeddah, a hill above Megeddah controlling trade routes.
    The British cut the Kurds and Shias in half in 1918 and gave control to the minority Sunnis allowing them to rule the region behind British Maxim guns on the minor provision that the West could pump the region’s oil. “Good Deal!” the Sunni minority responded. The Colonial system of backing one group to control the “undesireables” is time honored.
    Nicolai Machiavelli is the father of political science, and Politics rules ideals. Witness Karl Rove’s victories.
    Winston Churchill abandoned the region with the comment that it was an “ungreatful and expensive powderkeg”.
    The Soviets clamped the formal Yugoslavia under 60-70 years in a vice-like grip. When they left, the three sided civil war resumed. This is three or four generations later!
    And we are going to reenact Eden in Iraq?
    I agree that the current dependence on oil requires a Pax Halliburton, but don’t dignify the politics of pull with a moral imperative.

  56. Joseph Somsel

    Outsider,
    Good policy is when moral ends and pragmatic ends come together. Your historical views are not completely supported by my readings but I fail to see how methods the Britishers pulled to divide the country 80 or 90 years ago affects the US intentions on unifying it. The British were attempting to provide some sort of order to this backwater following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
    While the Soviets aided in Tito’s takeover of Yugoslavia as a Communist country, The USSR had little influence on Tito once he was established in power.
    WWII started in China in Asia and in Poland in Europe.
    As for Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, if interchanges that challenge your understanding of facts and your world view are so stressful that you request a break (“Give me a break…”), may I suggest you take that break and not engage in exchanges of views.
    Are you saying you wish to monopolize the comment sections? Better to get your own blog.

  57. Anonymous

    Interesting Board. I “fell” on it by coincidence while looking for market share information on the global oil market (for business purposes). I have long wondered whether the US invaded Iraq because of the oil, or because an idealistic or semi-idealistic wish to stabilise that region of the world (never believed the weapons of mass destruction story). At this point I don’t care which it was, I care more about what will happen next. No-one knows whether or when the US intervention in Iraq war will go from being a destabilising force in the region, to being a stabilising one. And that is the million-dollar question isn’t it? I tend to believe that no amount of weapons can control that region, and that there is therefore a real risk of the Iraq war backfiring on us. But what do I know? Maybe they will all be happily holding hands soon…

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