Sunday, July 13, 2008

Iraq: a retrospective

So Bush did the right thing with the surge? He decided to try to salvage a very bad situation by doubling down. Would another commander in chief do the same thing with a huge mistake he'd already invested a huge amount of his country's money and his own reputation -- not to mention the lives -- on? Probably. Bush, least of all, would understand the fallacy of sunk costs.

People, mostly Democrats, had suggested withdrawal, unless political progress was made towards reconciliation. And finally Malliki is making that progress, after the American electorate seemed ready to leave him holding the bag. Meanwhile Bush being obstinate, refused timetables. Without the pressure of the American people, Malliki would have taken even more time than he has in making that small progress. But even with these f--k ups, finally it seems possible for the American military to make a withdrawal from Iraq.

Let's take a Machievellian, er, practical, look at this result:
On the negative side:
(1) Bush, Republicans, and America's reputation stained by false data, fundamentally flawed process, leading to unnecessary war against a non-threatening country far away
(2) $1.2+ trillion spent on aforementioned unnecessary war using borrowed money, leading to weakened US dollar
(3) Enemy Iran strengthened by elimination of hostile neighbor
(4) Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists still not eliminated, both stronger than if the US hadn't gone into Iraq, Afghanistan still unstable
(5) Political uncertainty in the middle east raises oil prices and makes US electorate unhappy
(6) High oil prices strengthen enemies and authoritarian regimes such as Venezuela, Iran, Russia.
On the plus side:
(1) Small but potentially lucrative oil contracts made with companies from western countries, though not all companies are American, despite huge US investment in Iraq.
Seems like a raw deal for Americans handed us by Bush. If the surge hadn't worked, things would have been even worse.

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