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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Not-So-Inevitable Victory

The War

Here is the math.

The government we’re propping up in Iraq has an 80 billion dollar surplus. This is not being spent either to defray our costs, or to revitalize the areas that have been devastated by this conflict. It is also not being spent to stabilize the government or to build up the local military. It is not being spent. This would be understandable if there wasn’t anything in Iraq that needed doing, but there are quite a lot of things in Iraq that need doing.

Any reasonable governing body in the situation in which the Iraqi government finds itself now would be in horrendous debt. The Iraqi government isn’t. Thus, I must conclude that the Iraqi government isn’t a reasonable governing body.

Of course, the alternative is that there’s just no one with the authority to spend the dough. Since this basically amounts to the same thing, this need not alter any conclusions.

The war is costing approximately 341 million dollars per day. The United States has a population of 301 million, meaning that the war is costing each individual one dollar and thirteen cents daily, or 412 dollars per year. Bringing the 80 billion dollar surplus (annual) of the Iraqi government into play (or to put it bluntly, taking it away from them) would reduce the cost of the war to approx. 121 million dollars per day, with a cost individual of 146 dollars per year.

Most of the money spent on this war is, whether directly or indirectly, being borrowed from foreign countries, and will later need to be dealt with, either by (ideally) paying it back plus interest or (less ideally) making war on the holders of our debt. Since making war on our lenders would negate our ability to borrow our way through the war, the expense of such a war would likely have a very similar economic impact to simply paying our lenders back what we owe, and I think it’s safe to say no one wants us to be that much like France anyway.


Since the estimated population of the nation I used includes non-workers and children, It can be concluded that bringing the 80 billion dollar surplus of the Iraqi government into play would save a family of four 1164 dollars per year.

Ending the war outright would save the same family 1648 dollars per year.

To any of you making a healthy living wage, that may not seem like so much. But 137 dollars per month is a significant chunk to most families these days, and it can certainly make the difference between health insurance or no health insurance, rent or no rent, electricity or no electricity, house or no house, food or no food.

So that’s the math. Now, the philosophy.

As I mentioned two days ago in my first post, I’m of the opinion that a war without understood victory conditions is a dangerous animal. Back in the olden days, a war would end with the taking of a city, a hostage, a field, or the turn of a battle. A signed document, perhaps. Today, things are not so simple, apparently.

We crushed their army, dismantled their government, established hegemony over the bulk of their people, and still we must retreat. This is a different world than the one the makers of this war grew up in. The goals are not the same.

They told us there were WMDs, which of course there were (In a sense... Saddam had already used some forms of poison gas on “his own people” if anything is ever so simple), but there were no nukes because Israel had seen to that prospect already. We dismantled the government structure entirely, rather than simply chopping off the head, and were left attempting to construct an entire bureaucratic system from zero. No mail, no police, neighborhood security outside the “green” zone ensured only by the surprisingly earnest efforts of local gangs and/or tribal groups.

Anbar was not our success, it was a coalition of tribal leaders who opted to do our job for us.

Then, they told us we were making Iraq into a democracy. What an absurdity! A democracy is built not on majority rule but rather on the principle of minority rights, something which I cannot see taking root in the Muslim world any more than it jives with the Christian world, or the Satanists. Religious motivation is dangerous because it does not compromise. Absolute truth divides the world into good and bad, us and them, the living, and the dead.

We have lost Iraq, not merely because of money, but because we do not speak the same language. Literally, of course, this is true (at one point we had only seven Arabic translators working in Iraq, and one of them was fired because he was homosexual... irony’s a bitch), but my intended meaning is metaphorical. We say “we will make you free” and they hear “we will make you us.” The ground in the middle east is not well suited for the growth of plants like Democracy. Not yet.

Iran though... Iran speaks the language, both literally and metaphorically. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, in the end. God knows we will not be there to take part.

Whichever president takes office, we will be withdrawing from Iraq. The money is not there and our nation has jumped headlong into an economic crisis and dragged the world down with it. We have bigger fish to fry than Iraq right now.

It isn’t a matter of whether to end the war in Iraq, or even really when. It’s a matter of how.

That's my ten cents for the day.

Tomorrow: Why I "support" Israel, and why you should too.

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