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August 16, 2007

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Ralph L

How will we get the stupid proles to sign up for the next war if we keep intentionally losing?

Rick Ballard

"the fellow who has dropped the first forty might not be the most credible judge going forward."

Especially true if the prize was never the pile of quarters. What if the real prize was "extraordinarily uneasy rests the head which wears a crown"? How much is that worth and how can it be measured in other than a restriction of "the bloody borders" to actual borders?

Drunks in the US have killed over 50,000 during the time when AQ (with Iraqi and Afghani help) have killed 3,600. We've spent the better part of a trillion protecting not just the American economy (with a value over the time period of more than $60 trillion) but the world economy.

It really hasn't been that bad a deal - unless you have an attachment to one of the 3,600. In which case the reall problem was ROE in '04-'06 which didn't allow for a prompt recoup of costs plus 1,000% interest.

TerryeL

Well we can do that cost thing to anything. Here we have poured all this money into Social Security and the whole thing will go bust in a decade if we do not reform the system and maybe even if we do. Knowing that why don't we just shut it down right now?

I think we all know the answer to that.

What would the costs of leaving Saddam in power have been? We can not know, but if he had gotten away with thumbing his nose at the UN and the US there is no reason to believe that he would have changed. There is no reason to believe that Saddam would not have started up those mothballed programs, gone back to gassing his own people and invading his neighbors. After all where does that sunk theory come in here? Are we to believe that Saddam's future would have been different from his past if we had not intervened?

And what about the price of oil? If we leave and there is a crisis and genocide and a disruption of oil supplies and we suffer another oil shock, what would the costs of that be? I remember the last one and I also remember people said it was the largest transfer of wealth in history?

Why is it that people assume that if we just run away, walk away that all will be well? Why is it that people always assume that if they had not followed a course of action the alternative would have worked out swimmingly?

I understand the war critics and fatigue and all that, but I do think that the war in Iraq might have been over some time ago if there were not so many people using the violence there to advance some political agenda...and not all of the people using the violence are in Iraq, a lot of them are right here. There is no way we could win WW2 today, these people would have us apologizing to the Japanese and surrendering to Hitler as soon as they saw the casualty figures for DDay or the the civilian death toll in France.

kim

Ignore sunk costs? Oh my heaven. It took Bush more than four years to spend a billion dollars; the value destroyed by bin Laden in less than an hour.
==============

kim

er, trillion. Pretty soon we'll be talking about real money.
===================

PeterUK

There was one machine,which if it was tilted at the right angle and the handle given a double pull,always paid out,some resourceful kids broke the machine open,one simply stole the entire thing,others have waited for the manager to empty all the machines and relieved him of the takings.Others offer to stop this kind of thing happening for a percentage of the takings.
There are more than one kind of economics.

hit and run

The correct way to think about whether or not to proceed is to weigh the costs and benefits from pressing on from this point forward. What value do we place on victory? What are the chances that we will prevail if we do press on? And what will be the costs of pressing on in terms of lives and resources?


That's somewhere between half-assed and half-truth.

You can't properly decide whether or not to proceed if you only weigh the benefits and costs of proceeding.

Weigh the benefits and costs of not proceeding.

I mean you could value winning at $1. Give ourselves 1% chance to win. And say it's going to cost us 63,000,000,000 billion dollars to win.

But if not proceeding is going to cost us the deaths of 299,999,999 citizens, would it be worth it?

The truth is somewhere between those of course. But I'm ALL about The Narrative™!

Cecil Turner

How will we get the stupid proles to sign up for the next war if we keep intentionally losing?

Not to mention the saps we call "allies" . . . though that particular credibility issue is probably sunk already, if they read it by hand-wringing in Congress and at Foggy Bottom or Langley.

Rick Ballard

Peter,

I'm not at all sure that economics enters into the argument. To me it's an insurance question. The example is "You live in a million dollar house. You don't own any fire insurance. There is an asonist in your basement with 50 gallons of gas and a book of matches. What will you pay for 80% coverage - RIGHT NOW?

This ain't an "investment" nor even a bet, it's insurance. A negligible portion of the premium can be assigned to "investment" but it's truly negligible.

We are currently close enough to all the muslim cowards promoting state sponsored terrorism to whisper "Howdy, neighbor" accross the invisible fence.

Why leave?

hit and run

Cecil:
Not to mention the saps we call "allies"

Well, if Bush would just get on with taking everybody's oil and establishing the global Neoconiphate, we can just bully the "allies" into obsequience.

But I guess Rove stepping down is all part of the master plan. Things will start falling into place now.

PeterUK

Ignoring "sunk costs" like Vietnam,the Beirut barracks,Mogadishu,the Cole is what brought the present sad pass into being.
Failures are always remembered.

RichatUF

I'm going to print out the article and read it, but I have a sinking feeling.

On a different note, did anyone notice that the gold bugs fell out of bed this morning and really seemed to mail it in for the rest of the day. Anyway, I have to come up with something tomorrow, other than a hangover.

PeterUK

Rick,
I see it more as protection."Dis is nice lil' Cliphate you got here...". You just have to make them believe you.

hit and run

REWRITE:

Our My inability to think clearly about sunk costs is impeding our my ability to make clear decisions about our my involvement in Iraq writing this article. Failing to correctly identify sunk costs (those that are irretrievable), and deal with them properly, biases our my decision-making in favor of prolonging the war article.

PeterUK

Isn't this the same argument used by al Qaeda,give America enough sunk costs and she will run,just put in Economics Professorese?

Rick Ballard

Peter,

Shhh... wait 'til you see the "Army Offers $50K Signing Bonus to Anyone Holding a "Farsi As A Second Language" certificate. "Insurance" is a much nicer word than "protection".

I really dislike evaluating chess games using checkers rules.

I just want ROEs that firmly establish the transactional basis of operations. If you own the house in front of a position where an IED is emplaced, then you lose.

Everything.

Those are Israeli rules and they work.

sbw

Please explain to me where tallying either dollars or bodies factors in to the decision to stand up against anti-social behavior.

While you are at it, explain why greater anti-social behavior -- like blowing up 200 innocents -- doesn't generate greater opposition to such behavior.

No application of intellect can make an irrational exercise rational. ... And I'll never understand Democrats.

Ralph

Rick makes, as usual, some good points in his 7:11 post, but I think that there's even more to be considered:

I think that there's a problem thinking only about our costs, and ignoring the costs we've imposed on the Bad Guys. We've probably killed somewhere around 10,000 murdering scumbags (wan't it just last year that we snagged a letter in which Al-Qaeda admitted losing 4,000 since the start of the year?).

That's 10,000 who have NOT been planning/implementing attacks on the United States directly.

We have gone almost SIX years without being attacked on American soil again. That's something that NO ONE (including myself) expected would happen.

So, if we only look at the "costs" and ignore the successes, we're not making a rational decision either.

This war has gone FAR better than I expected. It hasn't been fought "perfectly," but there's never been a war that has been fought perfectly.

Similarly, if we are going to consider costs, we must consider what the costs will be if we get out of the war too soon.

Remember, by Bin Laden's own words, it was our decision to "cut and run" in Somalia that convinced he could beat the U.S. What can we rationally expect to happen if we give up and allow him to win in Iraq?

All the Best,

Ralph

maryerose

fORGET THE SUNKEN COSTS-THEY ARE IN THE PAST,The future of not pulverizing the enemy Al Queda comes with a far greater cost. Freedom liberty, our way of life as we know it. I'm sure dems know a lot of really nice Muslims. Al Queda are not nice Muslims-they are terrorists as are the military guard in Iran. Call a terrorist ,a terrorist and let the world know who they are.

TerryeL

These people murdered hundreds of people for the sheer nasty fun of it. What is the cost of just letting evil people get away with this kind of atrocity. Time and again. Every now and then people need to stand up for what is right.

TerryeL

maryerose:

I don't think this is about whether or not there are nice Muslims, I am sure there are. You do not have to be a Democrat to see that, this is about finishing what we started.

Rick Ballard

Ralph,

You're correct in assumptions concerning the avoided costs of a non-muscular response. When I use the term "insurance" it contains the proactive element that goes beyond the payment of a premium. If you look at the development of fire insurance within the US you'll find that you really could buy a policy while your house was providing the light by which to sign the policy. The premium wasn't really open to negotiation. The "chief" of the fire brigade set the price and it was a "go - no go" moment.

Ben Franklin is credited with the development but Lloyd's predated him by quite a stretch.

I don't place much value on killing jihadis. I don't see any reason to value their deaths any higher than do the entities which send them on their merry way. If it were within my power, I'd put a mullah or an imam or a financier in the ground every time an IED exploded. I really do think that a large part of our "problem" is exchanging knights for teeny clusters of pawns. A knight deserves an exchange of at least 100 pawns and I'm not sure that we're getting that exchange rate.

The monetary cost of this isn't worth a giggle. The human cost bears examination but so does the avoided cost letting the muslim death cult expand beyond its bloody contiguous borders.

rickc

The professor's argument for the sunk cost analogy is aimed only at the "dishonoring the dead" rationale for staying. I assume that this argument is a stand-in who all of the reasons people say we should stay. By far, the reasons given most repeatedly to continue are the adverse consequences of pulling out - terrorism, genocide, etc. To this argument, a more apt Silver Falls analogy is that along with the first quarter, you gave the machine access to your bank account. And if you stop dropping quarters before you win the jackpot, Silver Falls just starts pulling money out of your bank account and then opens a letter a credit to your account after all of your money is gone. Walking away from Silver Falls stops the adverse consequences. Walking away from Iraq does not.

rickc

The professor's argument for the sunk cost analogy is aimed only at the "dishonoring the dead" rationale for staying. I assume that this argument is a stand-in who all of the reasons people say we should stay. By far, the reasons given most repeatedly to continue are the adverse consequences of pulling out - terrorism, genocide, etc. To this argument, a more apt Silver Falls analogy is that along with the first quarter, you gave the machine access to your bank account. And if you stop dropping quarters before you win the jackpot, Silver Falls just starts pulling money out of your bank account and then opens a letter a credit to your account after all of your money is gone. Walking away from Silver Falls stops the adverse consequences. Walking away from Iraq does not.

rickc

The professor's argument for the sunk cost analogy is aimed only at the "dishonoring the dead" rationale for staying. I assume that this argument is a stand-in who all of the reasons people say we should stay. By far, the reasons given most repeatedly to continue are the adverse consequences of pulling out - terrorism, genocide, etc. To this argument, a more apt Silver Falls analogy is that along with the first quarter, you gave the machine access to your bank account. And if you stop dropping quarters before you win the jackpot, Silver Falls just starts pulling money out of your bank account and then opens a letter a credit to your account after all of your money is gone. Walking away from Silver Falls stops the adverse consequences. Walking away from Iraq does not.

RichatUF

The good professor's argument is to divorce the sunk cost argument from a cost-benefit analysis for withdrawal or victory. To quote the professor, as quoted by Tom:

The correct way to think about whether or not to proceed is to weigh the costs and benefits from pressing on from this point forward. What value do we place on victory? What are the chances that we will prevail if we do press on? And what will be the costs of pressing on in terms of lives and resources? Our country may be divided on this issue, but we owe it to those who may yet be called to make the ultimate sacrifice to properly count our costs.

It is curious that the cost-benefit analysis question is coming up now, I seem to remember someone making that argument before congress a few weeks back [ie, where was the cost-benefit analysis?] [one from 2002, familiar name there; one from Uni. of Chicago updated 2006, long read]

So where do we begin.

maryerose

My point before though I did not express it well is that dems don't recognize the terrorists. They see them as insurgents or freedom fighters. They don't believe there are terrorists in our country. Some are rooting for Padilla who was convicted today.
I agree with Terrye that these attacks are evil and must be stopped. Other countries that have not been attacked like France don't realize the inherent danger.

Rick Ballard

So where do we begin?

What is the value of control of 40% of the world's oil by a theocratically inspired hegemon? Kinda 'pends on what they do with the control, don't it?

I'm kinda in favor of a balance of "Nice shot, Abdul" followed by "Well played, Achmed" as we had during the Iraq-Iran unpleasantness of the '80's.

Fair's fair dontchaknow.

Democracy just ain't innit.

The main thing is that nobody "wins".

RichatUF

Rick-

This ain't an "investment" nor even a bet, it's insurance. A negligible portion of the premium can be assigned to "investment" but it's truly negligible.

The Iraq War as an fire insurance policy...curious states make war and war makes states?

I've wanted to make the comparison to the Iraq War as "a what could have been" if the US decided to stay in Europe after WW1 and prevented the Bolshevik Revolution from sweeping across Russia. I was looking at the HLF trial and reading some of the write ups was like reading the Sword and the Shield for the first time.

cheers

RichatUF

Rick-

...we had during the Iraq-Iran unpleasantness of the '80's...

All that unpleasantness got us the Tanker War, the Gulf War, and one can make the argument that the militarization that the Iran-Iraq War caused throughout the Gulf (in addition to the Afghan Jihad) has created the state owned oil industries and the protection racket that the "Arab Street" really is.

South Korea wasn't a democracy in 1945, and hasn't been much of one until recently.

RichatUF

Tom:

A quick note: name misspelled, Bruce Wydick

Rick Ballard

"states make war and war makes states?"

Well, my reading of history only extends to to the Peloponnesian series of unpleasant situations so I can't be certain in all cases but I seem to recall that "modern " Iraq derived from a Franco-British agreement reached after a period of disharmony that ended in November of 1918.

It ain't exactly like the "Iraqis" were "yearning to be free" then, either.

The ROKs didn't have to overcome a belief system predicated upon a division between believers and non-believers with a value of .5 ascribed to non-believers. You can have mob rule with such a system but western democracy has protection of minority rights as a fundamental pillar. If you enshrine sharia in the constitution, it's a call for mob rule.

narciso

Point well taken, Korea cost 35,000 dead, probably two or three times as many wounded.
They call it "The Forgotten War" because it
falls between The Good War, World War 2, and
the Bad War, Vietnam. However, they shared not a few things in common. There were intelligence miscalculations, "Hans Tofte's
ficticious cell" there was corruption, obviously (maybe this is too much of the MASH lens) S. Korea recovered enough to become one of the 4 tigers of East Asia, under a regime you couldn't really call democratic, but was a damm side better than
anything across the 38th parallel. Had we allowed the late General Creighton Abrams'
s strategies more breathing room, chronicled
in Moyar, Colby Sorley, Vietnam could have turned out as well as South Korea. Having read Moyar, and his devastating chapter on how Halberstam, & Sheehan, completely misunderstood Diem and by extension Vietnam; relying almost exclusively on one American officer, Lt. Col Vann, and one N. vietnamese spy, Pham Xuan An; one has to consider how badly, Packer, Gordon, Ricks, et al have misread Iraq

We'd probably still have some complaints be complaining about competition from the Dao Tse (like Richard Gephardt once famously did about the Hyundai; as a pretext to audition for Reed Smoot)It appears it would probably still be a sweat shop for Nikes, et al; but we would have held on to Cam Ranh Bay, another one of those 'sunk costs' courtesy of Brown & Root, and the previous Texan to hold the White House.

MikeS

What are the chances that we will prevail if we do press on?

The chances are 100%! The U.S. experience in Vietnam, the French experience in Algeria, and the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, are examples of NOT pressing on. It is these very examples that have inspired bin Laden and his kind. The very idea that we will give up first inspires them still.

Similarly Saddam’s defiance of the conventions of lawful society and world order was inspiring to the Barbarians. That is why he couldn’t be tolerated.

The economics metaphor is another example of trying to oversimplify the conflict we are engaged in. Removing Saddam and installing a moderate government in his place, in the most troublesome nation of the most troublesome region of the world, and at this (troublesome?) time, is a monumental endeavor. It is not an arcade game.

No one knows what might have been. No one knows the future. We don’t know for sure what the cost of failure in Iraq would be, but if history is any example it would be unacceptable.

kim

Please don't forget, narciso, that John Kerry served in Vietnam.
==============================

Rick Ballard

MikeS,

Suppose a newspaper headline from June, 1936 were entitled "Franco-British Forces Enforce Treaty of Versailles in the Rhineland" with a subtitle of "German forces completely destroyed - Hitler out". What kind of cost/benefit analysis could handle that one?

Or better - November 1940 - Britain agrees to peace talks with Germany. Restitution of sovereignty within France and Poland said to be "on the table". The "good" news holds the Japanese off until '44, when they join Germany in a joint attack on the USSR and the USA.

The "good" guys don't always win. Ask the Athenians.

Walter

Well, there's economics, and then there's economics. I'll see his 'sunk costs' and raise 'externalities'.

To calculate the proper NPV of alternate courses of action, you have to ignore sunk costs. But if you make policy, you really should take indirect as well as direct costs into account.

Kipling (no stranger to this area and these opponents) said it best:

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:—
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

I note that the internet savants no longer allow me to quote Thomas Jefferson saying "Millions for defense but not a penny for tribute" when speaking of relations with the latter-day muslim extremists. But he could've, for all that his policy differed from that sentiment.

So, by all means withdraw from Iraq, if we receive sufficient assurances that it will end our suffering and theirs. Worked for Spain, dinnit?

Or if such iron-clad assurances are not available, perhaps we should continue to fight over there, where (for better or worse) it's not our infrastructure, institutions and populace being decimated.

MikeS

The "good" guys don't always win.

Yes but, the winners always claim to be the good guys.

Dusty

I think the allusion to gambling and winning/losing was just too tempting to Wydicki to pass up. I don't think a mere game of chance is a very good analogy to use for making this comaparison.

If one were to use say the building of a house and thinking about sunk costs for whatever reason as you progress towards completion, you might have a little better understanding of both sunk costs and the war in Iraq.

Seriously, how many people would just up and leave, dropping hammer and nails at the edge of the lot, just because the mounting costs of the construction is becoming a bother. What is the status of the house? Is all that is left the roof and then the interiors? Wouldn't a serious person modify the plan to salvage the cost by finishing the job, somehow, even if there are some drastic reductions in scope?

Leave it to the likes of Wydicki to not examine other possibilities and instead pass off the worst economic example in the most simplistic manner possible to portray his favored political preference.

Walter

From that wiki cite above, in a letter from Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (the future prez--not the beer) to the Continental Congress discussing the pirates' justification:

That it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.

And I learn something new most days. Today, I learnt "...in order to reduce the likelihood of being beheaded while boarding enemy ships, Marines wore leather collars. This led to the nickname Leatherneck for U.S. Marines."

But I could've just asked Cecil.

TexasToast

This whole "analysis" depends on:

1. the perceived "threat" of Islamic terrorism; and
2. a determination that our present course reduces the perceived "threat" of Islamic terrorism.

"We" will continue to talk right past each other as long as we fundamentally disagree about both of these things.

Firstly, conservatives (as exemplified by many of the above comments) seem to describe the "threat" as nigh on existential (Islamic terrorists can destroy our whole way of life! 9/11 changed everything!) while folks like me view the "threat" as requiring a vigorous response - but not the invasion and occupation of a third country that had very little to do with "Islamic terrorism". If we perceived that "Islamic terrorism" was the existential threat to our way of life that you seem to, I suspect that 90% of people who think like I do would "pay any cost and bear any burden" - but we don't. Moreover, there doesn't seem to be any connection between the burden we are asked to bear by or government as a response to the described "threat" that we don't perceive in the first instance.

This was the wrong war for th wrong reasons - and we will continue throwing good blood and money after bad until we have no more to spend or we realize that, like a lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math, this war is a "tax" on all of us because the people who want "one more roll" will continue to make the decisions until at least January, 2009.

BTW, if you have a gambling problem, there are 800 numbers you can call ......

MikeS

Dusty's incomplete house analogy helps us visualize the value of the progress made to date.

Some of the progress in Iraq is hard to quantify. If we had used the tactics we are using now back in 2003, it is likely that the international press would have condemned us for unnecessary brutality, and the Sunnis would have joined forces with al Qaeda against us.

The fact that attitudes seemed to have changed represents valuable progress, but how do you measure it?

Weirdo

Okay, we withdraw from Iraq into Saudi Arabia, and put up a defensive force there, pissing off Osama bin Laden at our defilement of the Holy Land. Osama bin Laden accordingly recruits Saudis to blow up our troops' barracks, truckbomb our embassies, and then ram our skyscrapers with out jetliners . . . hmmm. Sound familiar. Let's try something else.

Okay. So we pull out from the Arab world entirely. The Iranians back Sadr in seizing control of Iraq, maybe minus Kurdistan and some Sunni-majority areas. Iraq rebuilds a military under its theocracy, and charges down the Arabian Peninsula to free the Shiites living in Saudi Arabia from the oppression of the Sunni royal family . . . Shiites who incidentally live on the Saudi oil fields. The oil reserves of the entire Gulf region fall under the dominion of an anti-American Iran-Iraq theocratic alliance.

Er. That's worse than the scenario we were facing in 1990, when at least we'd have had a Iraq hostile to Iran dominating the Arab states of the Gulf.

All right, we spend ten more years occupying Iraq, making slow progress like we have for the last year. 8,000 or so more American troops die, and a bit more than $2 trillion more is spent, but the result is a reasonably functioning Iraq, about as free and democratic as Turkey. The relatively non-odious Iraq gives us a real alternative to Saudi Arabia (and thus leverage with the Saudis), and serves as a real counterweight to Iran.

MikeS

Weirdo, well said.

Rick Ballard

"Yes but, the winners always claim to be the good guys."

Well, yeah, but don't forget that history validates the Thebans (although the Lesbians surely got their licks in). 'Course, that was against the damned Persians. Still and all - the Athenians wrote the history that the Spartans made. We remember Pericles much more than Pausanias. I suppose the best remembered might be Alcibiades, who fought for.... Alcibiades.

2007 tactics in 2003 were a no go. The IA and the IP couldn't handle "hold". The ancillary hidden benefit to this is that we are gaining an Arab army that may become an ally within five years. Depends...

Rick Ballard

Whoops - that would be Spartans - not Thebans. There were Thebans at Thermopylae but they were hostages of the Spartans,

Walter

TexasToast,

I agree with you that this is not an existential threat. The US could sustain attacks of 9/11 scale every six years indefinitely.

Where we differ is whether we should.

Or rather, whether we should continue to engage those who wish us ill outside of our territory.

I agree with TM and the Horde‰ that 'sunk cost' overestimation plays a greater role in the thinking of those wishing to end the material support to Iraq rather than those wishing to continue it.

I suppose it's possible that Saddam would have pulled a Qaddafi and unilaterally joined the company of civilized nations. Heck, it's possible that we could have given in and removed the sanctions and no-fly zones with no significant adverse consequences to our interests.

But that is, as they say, water under the bridge.

I'm not sure how one can maintain with a straight face that Iraq does not contain a plethora of people who wish us ill.

Sure, some portion would get bored if we left. Some would be preoccupied with cleansing our influence from their society. But there is bound to be some portion that would migrate to where we go, just as some from Afghanistan made it to Chechnya and Kenya.

Rick Ballard

Not to mention that it was the Thespians rather than the Lesbians who aided Leonidas.

Sorry about the spinout.

Barry
All right, we spend ten more years occupying Iraq, making slow progress like we have for the last year. 8,000 or so more American troops die, and a bit more than $2 trillion more is spent, but the result is a reasonably functioning Iraq, about as free and democratic as Turkey. The relatively non-odious Iraq gives us a real alternative to Saudi Arabia (and thus leverage with the Saudis), and serves as a real counterweight to Iran.

Why spend 10 years, 8,000 American lives, and 2 trillion more dollars to produce a "counterweight" to Iran? I'd prefer to let the Iraqi's do whatever they wish to each other, while we destroy the terror regime in Iran. Remember, each of these regimes has it's own enemies. Set them loose upon each other.

MikeS

'Course, that was against the damned Persians.

Well it's easy to lick a Persian but who would want to! Now if you could pull that off against the Norse, you could write a book. Maybe not a history book but ...

Walter

Drat.

"Horde™"

The blackboard of my mind is a treacherous place.

Soylent Red

Feh. I hate metaphors based on economic principles. Nothing so clarifies a subject than to hammer it into a vague analogy based on a subject most people don't understand.

Rick I think comes close in pointing out that Iraq was never really just about Iraq. While he (if I understand him correctly) suggests it was about sending a message to other tyrants, I go in another direction.

Iraq is simply one of many linked problem children that have to be dealt with either now or later.

In 2003 I don't think anyone would have made the case that Iraq was sympathetic to the American side of the (so called) GWOT. Just as A-Q was looking for another place to take root, intel suggested that A-Q had already begun the process of reaching out. Add to that the prevailing international wisdom that Iraq was either in the process of, or seriously contemplating, a scaled up WMD program. What you get is a country that actively went down a path of moving itself to the top of our To-Do List.

So when it comes to Iraq, the economic principle that comes to my mind is "Opportunity Cost". How much more would we be spending cleaning up a VX or nuclear contaminated Manhattan or Hollywood?

Rick Ballard

"The blackboard of my mind is a treacherous place."

Tell me about it.

Of course, there probably were Lesbian Thespians.... still are, come to think of it.

MikeS

I'd prefer to let the Iraqi's do whatever they wish to each other, while we destroy the terror regime in Iran.

Me too. But I think Iran just might go the easy way. Easy or hard Iran's defiance inspires more defiance, and is therefor destabilizing.

RichatUF

Rick-

Your insurance argument reminded me of this old article, that's why I included "states make war and war makes states" [and one can further parse it out to bureaucracy makes corruption and corruption makes bureaucracy].

..."modern" Iraq derived from a Franco-British agreement reached after a period of disharmony that ended in November of 1918...

Indeed. Peters has a couple of good articles on the post-Versailles "states" and the disaster they have been especially in Africa; however, Lewis made a counterpoint about the ME, with the exception of the N and S division of Yemen, no ME post-Versailles state has collapased, and specifically about Iraq, when they fought their war with Iran few Iraqi Shiites defected to the Khomeinist program [as everyone in Iran thought would happen].

The ROKs didn't have to overcome a belief system predicated upon a division between believers and non-believers with a value of .5 ascribed to non-believers...

I'm not disagreeing with you that the social costs of Islam will be difficult to overcome in Iraq; however, Korea is Confuciusian and that has proven to be easily exploited by communism [Mao, Kim Il Sung, Little Kim, Ho Chi Minh...most of the nominally communist countries in the world today: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, are Asian; informed and educated in Confuciusian values and culture] Yew's take in 1994 and in 2001

creepydude

"It really hasn't been that bad a deal - unless you have an attachment to one of the 3,600."

Hey Rick Ballard-fuck you, you stupid prick.

MikeS

I could be wrong, but I think I detect an ever so slight undertone of negativity coming from creepy.

RichatUF

Barry-

Set them loose upon each other.

We did this from 1980-1988 and terrorism from that region of the world didn't stop, and eventually focused on its Great Satan and Little Satan.

Barry

Rich,

My comment is not clear. We have to destroy the regimes, the mullahs, etc. Then the remnants can fight each other. As long as they leave us alone they can do whatever. That would be unlike the period of the 80's.

Rick Ballard

Rich,

Thanks for the link to the Tilly piece. He got most of it but a tie in to Westphalian conventions would have been helpful. Confucianism is very adaptable. It's a philosophy rather than a religion and can be tweaked as easily for democracy as it can be for communism. I really think that it lends itself towards conservative democracy (a basis of retention) than towards any type of Hegelian historicism.

I see the real problem of "democracy" in the islamic countries as a subset of the concept expressed as "inshallah". It's both fatalistic and deterministic with whatever "outcome" which occurs being acceptable. Long term, materialism and its concurrent requirement of secularism might win out but we're talking multigenerational change - not "purple fingers".

'Til then it's shak mat - may the least evil win.

RichatUF

Texas Toast-

If we perceived that "Islamic terrorism" was the existential threat to our way of life that you seem to, I suspect that 90% of people who think like I do would "pay any cost and bear any burden" - but we don't...

Really, those brave anti-anti-communists, facing down those "fascist Republicans" by doing "progressive" works. Please. The current leadership of the Democratic party (or its "progressive wing") doesn't perceive the threat because modern Islamic terrorism is fully educated in its means and methods from Marxist terrorism.

...there doesn't seem to be any connection between the burden we are asked to bear by or government as a response to the described "threat" that we don't perceive...

I've never fully understood this argument-you would be for the war if there were a draft, a 10% war tax, rationing, a doubling or tripling of the defense budget (even deficts of 100% of GDP). Basically a fighting force that could start in Lebanon and finish somewhere in Indonesia. How about I call bullshit-you don't believe that the threat is real, so your "bear any burden" rhetoric is your placeholder for a counterargument so you can then start moving the goalposts.

...while folks like me view the "threat" as requiring a vigorous response...

What warrants, jail terms, and strongly worded UN resolutions-worked really well against OBL and al-Qeada

Topsecretk9

Texas Toast -- or "a" Texas Toast was actively celebrating Justice Roberts demise on DU after his fall - FYI

Rick Ballard

"How much more would we be spending cleaning up a VX or nuclear contaminated Manhattan or Hollywood?"

Lt. Red,

You're right - I argue the inversion.


What is keeping your head (and your power) worth?

Your critical lense seems similiar to that of SBW:

""No application of intellect can make an irrational exercise rational. ... And I'll never understand Democrats.

It's just not rational to apply checkers rules to a chess game. Is chess weighted to the offense or the defense? Kinda depends on the state of the board - and the mind of the opponent. For the mind conditioned by islam, winning is survival. Which is why Saddam never personally signed any "accords". He won GWI by staying in power and carried his "victory" straight into the grave. Inshallah.

Lesley

Rick

Was watching Dr. Zhivago tonight. Thought of you with these lines:

[Yevgraf narrating, showing him joining a group of enthusiastic volunteers in Moscow]

"In bourgeois terms, it was a war between the Allies and Germany. In Bolshevik terms, it was a war between the Allied and German upper classes - and which of them won was of total indifference. My task was to organize defeat, so as to hasten the onset of revolution. I enlisted under the name of Petrov. The party looked to the peasant conscript soldiers - many of whom were wearing their first real pair of boots. When the boots had worn out, they'd be ready to listen. When the time came, I was able to take three whole battalions out of the front lines with me - the best day's work I ever did. But for now, there was nothing to be done. There were too many volunteers. Most of it was mere hysteria."

- General Yevgraf Zhivago -

Plus ca change, plus la meme chose, eh?

Rick Ballard

Lesley,

A war between cousins over table scraps. And yet we try and apply "rational actor" analysis to hoodlums wearing clerical masks based upon our interpretation of "right action" according to Westphalian concepts.

It might behoove the west to watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid a few times. If one pays close attention to the the Harvey Logan fight scene: "Rules? In a knife fight?", one might take away a life lesson that's applicable outside of the theater.

PeterUK

"Firstly, conservatives (as exemplified by many of the above comments) seem to describe the "threat" as nigh on existential (Islamic terrorists can destroy our whole way of life! 9/11 changed everything!) while folks like me view the "threat" as requiring a vigorous response - but not the invasion and occupation of a third country that had very little to do with "Islamic terrorism".

Though strangely it seems to be right for al Qaeda and iran to invade a third country.
I'd love to hear the vigourous response,exactly how would you "respond" to a fanatical cult bent on world domination,the members of which think it is cool to die in their prime,burning to death in an aircraft?

PeterUK

"I could be wrong, but I think I detect an ever so slight undertone of negativity coming from creepy."

Nah,it's just his Tourettes Syndrome playing him up again,a terrible affliction for a preacher.

Pofarmer

At that point, Comey asked Mueller to tell the FBI agents detailed to protect Ashcroft "that no visitors, other than family, were to be allowed to see the AG without my consent."

Did anybody else catch this at Drudge?

From here http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070816/D8R2DCE00.html

Notes Describe Frail, Upset AG Ashcroft

What bugs me, of course, is that it doesn't say why he was upset. Was he upset because White house types visited with him, or was he upset becuase his underlings had suddenly changed course? It all goes back to Schumer and Comey.

Pofarmer

As long as they leave us alone they can do whatever.

Can you gaurantee that outcome Barry? 'Cause it's not real likely. After all, your little blood fueds will be sitting on a ton of the worlds oil supplies, and some of the actors have nukes.

Extraneus

We are currently close enough to all the muslim cowards promoting state sponsored terrorism to whisper "Howdy, neighbor" accross the invisible fence.

Why leave?

Bingo.

(Never miss a post by Rick Ballard.)

The professor is just another in a long line of what might otherwise be termed cowards. They claim not to see a threat when the threat snarls right in their faces, and spend their time crafting one more stupid argument for tucking their tails between their legs.

Does anyone think this professor of economics analogies would lend a hand if he was witnessing an assault in real life, what with all the sunk costs he might have to bear?

Considering the fact that our military has consistently shown affection for every day Iraqis, when it would be far easier to do otherwise, I find the arguments of the pro-genocide, or "oh, well, we have to face the fact that there might be genocide," side rather lacking in moral standing, not to mention strategic vision. Seems like just the whinings and machinations of a bunch of cowards who see political potential in an alliance with our enemies.

You know, I think Rick even has a few words to describe such people.

HoosierHoops

Texas Toast: If this is the wrong time for the wrong war..
Well when exactly was the right time to deal with Iraq? 5 years, 10, 20, 50 years from now? Christ anyone with half a brain knew that Saddam was going to have to be dealt with eventually..I always said 1991 was the perfect time..Clinton knew it, but he didn't know what to do and punted after 8 years..But something was going to have to be done about a madman..Maybe we should have just waited till OBL called up Saddam and did lunch...
OK..About this professor and Sunk costs..
What a friggin crock..
But i have an idea to appease the Dems and professor Sunkenberry.
Put a checkmark on the Taxform..
Check here to donate 100 dollars to fight global terrorism..
Now everybody can shut up about the cost of the war..The Dems can say they sacaficed for our country..moneywise.
What you say? You don't think dems would want to donate to fight terrorism?

ann

BRAVO! I wish our elected officials would debate like JOMers. Anyone here want to run for congress?

OT

Rove will be on "Meet The Press" Sunday. Anyone hoping he asks Timmy a few questions?

PeterUK

The Professor is totally ignoring the opponents "sunk costs",this is a company that still trying to regain Al Andalus,a company they to control of in a hostile take over which they lost by the same means.
The bottom line is,to create the World Caliphate Inc,al Qaeda has to beat its largest competitor.For Iran to gain regional hegemony,America must be ejected from Iraq.This would result in not only the regions oil,Kuwait would fall to Iran,but all the sea lanes of the area.Iran is already bragging its shore batteries can prevent access by shipping,whither the Maritime USA?
With the US out of Iraq the next target will be Israel,Israel will not "go quietly into that dark night".

Pofarmer

Man, I haven't watched meet the press since the appalling Katrina coverage, but I might have to make an exception.

kim

And the King of the Sauds and putative head of all Arabs has common cause with Israel against Ahmadinejad and the Persians.
============================

glasater

Tom Friedman was on Charley Rose last evening and one comment he said made some sense out of many that didn't was this...during the Reagan administration...what brought down the Soviet Empire was eighty dollar barrel oil going to ten dollars a barrel.

PeterUK

Rigourous action,
A condemnation of terror by the UN,a 10 on the Chuckleometer.
A letter of stiff rebuke.
Synchronised hand wringing.
Mass snubbing.
An embargo on all terrorist goods.
Protest rallies with giant puppets lampooning,bin Laden and the Mullahs.
Ignore those horrid men until they go away.
Surrender and convert,but keep wearing jeans with the burqa as an act of defiance.
Vote Democrat for all of these.

Soylent Red

For the mind conditioned by islam, winning is survival.

As I see it, this isn't peculiar to the Islamic mind. That kind of fatalistic approach seems to be a common thread in most asymmetric fights. Where Islam contributes, as you rightly point out, is the religious and civil institutionalization of fatalism (as religious and civil law overlap). But this was also seen in militarist Japan. I don't know, but I suspect this might have been true of other groups like the Moros or the VietCong. It would be an interesting linkage if they were death cultures as well.

Anyway, the institutionalized fatalism also fuels the sort of multi-generational element of intifadah. Your children are going to die anyway for the cause, so whether it is at age 11 or age 22 is irrelevant. That makes your son's suicide bombing morally easier to stomach and keeps a steady stream of mentally prepared recruits coming.

Incidentally, these are two of the most important tenets of asymmetric (4G) warfare. "Winning" by simply not losing for long enough that the enemy gives up, and; a multigenerational fatalism.

So it would seem that either by accident or design we are fighting a culture that has several hundred years of civil and religious predisposition to asymmetry.

kim

Copying machines, glasater; what the internet will ultimately do to Persia, Roosia, and The Chinee.
===========================

kim

There's the real assymetry; freedom of information.
=========================

kim

As usual, I prefer my slips. 'Real Assymetry' sounds like a field rich with meretricious metrics.
===================

kim

Kinda like RealClimate.
==============

SunnyDay

Posted by: Pofarmer | August 17, 2007 at 07:36 A
**********************

I took note of it. Also the fact that there is dead silence on the Tamm investigaton. Waiting for the other shoe...


About the OP - if only it was just silver change at stake. Some analogies are so... stupid.

juandos

Funny but I don't think that this professor Wydicki ever made the same case for that other war, the so called, "war on poverty"...

What about trillions of dollars extorted from the productive so politicos of both parties could pander to the parasitic?

BTW LIBTARD Ralph L , those, "stupid proles" you refered to are obviously smarter, better educated, and less clueless than you it seems...

Cecil Turner

Vote Democrat for all of these.

Precisely. I don't want a lecture on "sunk costs" (and concur with the good Lt. that "opportunity cost" is the bigger issue), nor is the spectacle of liberals' moral preening over 3600 [disproportionately conservative] war dead compelling . . . we need some idea on where the hand-wringers intend to go from here. And, as usual, there's no proposal from the left (except the occasional inane half-baked one, like "invade Pakistan").

BTW LIBTARD Ralph L , those, "stupid proles" . . .

Might want to crank the rheostat on that irony detector up a quarter-turn or so.

HoosierHoops

Kim
As usual, I prefer my slips. 'Real Assymetry' sounds like a field rich with meretricious metrics.
===================

Now I'm not saying it's not easy to keep the hoopster confused and mostly dazed by your comments.. I know you are one sharp cookie and wished sometimes you would expound on your input..
So this time I ran your meretricious metrics through Google...I find myself in good company sharing the search engines confusion. With References to everything from Fantasy baseball Stats to class-action lawsuits google floundered away to no avail.
( I know the feeling ) just having some fun with ya Kim.

syn

The 'sunk costs' of Ivory Tower indoctrination is the loss of Liberty.

War isn't as costly as Ignorance.

Good gracious how many more children will be lost to totalitarian oppression when sent off to the Ivory Tower's collective torture rooms?

How much academic lobby money sent to Democrat politicians is being used to kill the children of freedom?

RichatUF

Lt. Red

...Where Islam contributes, as you rightly point out, is the religious and civil institutionalization of fatalism...

The Aztecs

RichatUF

Lt. Red

...It would be an interesting linkage if they were death cultures as well...

also the Tamil Tigers

PeterUK

Lt Red,
You could add extreme masculist honour culture to the mix,a characteristic of all those you mentions.Basically what we have to contend with is an atavistic warrior culture,death before dishonour, bolstered by a fatalistic religion which guarantees an afterlife.A heady mix in the age of advanced NBC.

cathyf

Of late I have found Peggy Noonan vapid and whiney, but today's column I think is perceptive, and fits in with the topic of the fatalistic death cult...

PeterUK

"I think is perceptive, and fits in with the topic of the fatalistic death cult..."

Are we still talking about the Democrats?

Barry

test

Sue
BTW LIBTARD Ralph L , those, "stupid proles" you refered to are obviously smarter, better educated, and less clueless than you it seems...

Posted by: juandos | August 17, 2007 at 10:08 AM

But not you, or so it would seem. Next time, try reading for context, since the current military and current war are not what Ralph was referring to.

Carol Herman

ONE GOOD BOOK IS ALL YOU NEED, HERE!

I'm recommending Taleb's RANDOMNESS. See? You can give people paper for completing math courses, but you can't make them smarter than guessers. Especially when it comes to wars. And, markets. Very complex organizations (not set up Barnum & Bailey, as most are; just to take your money) ... should give most people pause when they read TRIPE like you're getting here with "sunk costs."

The experts in Taleb's book, by the way, BLOW UP. They reach a point where they're quite rich. At the top of the Wall Street pundits "list." And, then the market heads south. Taleb, instead BETS THE BLACK SWANS.

That's another book.

But you won't be fooled into believing statistics clues you in about the future. Better to enjoy a cup of tea; and hire a "professional" to read your tea leaves.

Mistakes in Irak! 3 years of DIDDLING. Where Bush was there, but he was ALSO the "lotion boy" for the Saud's. Perhaps, you haven't seen the ways James Baker has tried to get the Saudi's to have even more Mideast real estate.

Hey! Lincoln, too, was beset with years and years of poor military management. Don't forget, the Commander in Chief is NOT the expert!

That's what gave James Baker his advantage. Personally, may the son of a bitch, and the Saud's, blow up at their gaming table. Can happen. Don't rule out RANDOM OUTCOMES. Even to the "best" fakers and planners.

Ralph L

"Basically what we have to contend with is an atavistic warrior culture,death before dishonour, bolstered by a fatalistic religion which guarantees an afterlife"

Which would explain the constant violence of the European Middle Ages (and the 17th cent.)

I must have hit a raw nerve in Juan to get bold and italics.

Oriz

A class C statistical comparison between the lives lost per man-day in Iraq versus the NASA space shuttle flights indicates, to be comparable, our Iraq losses should be in the order of 190,000 dead.

Barry

Pofarmer:

Can you gaurantee that outcome Barry? 'Cause it's not real likely. After all, your little blood fueds will be sitting on a ton of the worlds oil supplies, and some of the actors have nukes.

I can gaurantee no more than anyone else. However, you misread me, the part about destroying the regimes that fund and support terrorists. If the "blood feuders" that are left wish to pick up the terrorism mantle, then they would be destroyed. What they do to each other in the meantime is of no concern to me.

None of the actors would be allowed nukes. Iran would not be allowed nukes. Matters little what I think. The administration and the west in general do not have the will to stop Iran. They have already ceded the southern half of Iraq to Iran. Our "leaders" allow Iranian terrorists to kill our troops in Iraq with impunity. What is taking place now is nothing more than trying to find a way to withdraw while preserving as many gop votes as possible. There is no war on terror. Just a war for short term stability in Iraq long enough for us to withdraw.

SlimGuy

Just google juandos and then at each page you hit do a ctrl f for search in page for each comment he writes.

Actually only the first , the search box will still hold him for the next page you hit on.

A real rogue scholar we have here.

LindaK

The "sunk cost" analogy is another example about why the good professor is teaching economics and not making actual national security decisions. From a business perspective, sunk cost usually refers to investments made in a legacy system. The decision to move to a new system requires an analysis of the investment made in the old system and its ongoing benefits compared to investing in a new system and its benefits.

So, applying that to Iraq: we're in a strategic location in the ME, in a country that has resources (oil), and a geography in which we can fight and prevail. So if we are to abandon that for say, Afghanistan, what would be benefits be/ Oil - none. Strategic location - not. Geography - just ask the Russians.

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Wilson/Plame