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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 24, 2003

Applying Murphy's Law to the Iraq war.

The downside

According to Jack Beatty, writing in the Atlantic Monthly in an article entitled The Road Better Not Taken, "A war against Iraq could be the most catastrophic blunder in U.S. history."
"The nightmare scenario," retired General Joseph Hoar, the former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate committee in September, "is that six Iraqi Republican Guard divisions and six heavy divisions with several hundred artillery pieces defend the city of Bagdhad. The result would be high casualties on both sides as well as in the civilian community. U.S. forces would certainly prevail but at what cost ... as the rest of the world watches while we bomb and have artillery rounds go off in densely populated Iraqi neighborhoods?" A leaked UN contingency planning report predicted that as many as 500,000 Iraqi civilians could be injured or have their health impaired by city fighting.

In a comprehensive analysis of the economic costs of war, William Nordhaus, a Yale economist, gives a range of bad news, starting from $100 billion, if all goes well, to as much as $1.9 trillion if nothing goes well and the occupation drags on. U.S. troops never seem to come home—they remain in Germany and Japan fifty-seven years after the end of World War II and ten years after the end of the Cold War; they remain in Korea fifty years after the end of the Korean War; they remain in Saudi Arabia ten years after the end of the Gulf War; they remain in Bosnia five years after the end of the Yugoslav civil war. And they could remain in Iraq for years, targets of terrorist attack and proof of "U.S. imperialism." MORE
As much as I desparately believe in the war and having it start right away, these are sobering thoughts and cannot be ignored as part of the risks.