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Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Monday, September 08, 2003


Here's what we said before the war, on March 14th. It seems relevant, in the light of W.'s speech.

"Given this, here is the primer for the upcoming catastrophe:
1. Occupation is not peace. The media has defined the war as having a beginning -- when Bush declares it -- and an end -- when Saddam Hussein is dissolved. Now, the beginning, as we all know by now, has not been clear. In fact, it is unclear what Bush will declare, if we are actually engaged in warlike hostilities now, and who will be responsible for the war -- as in, you know, the marquis. Is it the UN vs. Saddam, the U.S. vs Saddam, or the Coalition of the Willing vs. Saddam? Similarily, the dissolution of Saddam ends only one phase of the war. The next phase, if the post-Saddam history of Northern Iraq is relevant, begins with squabbling between hostile factions that soon escalates into shooting. Plus, of course, with a soldiery strung out in Iraq and no central authority besides that army, the terrain and disposition of forces is ideally suited for suicide bombers.
2.You can't give what you take. As we've pointed out before, Paul Wolfowitz has testified that we intend to pay for the war with Iraq's money. At the same time, we intend to reconstruct Iraq. Those are mutually cancelling propositions. This is when the lesson of Afghanistan kicks in. There is no constituency in this country willing to see a transfer of about one hundred billion dollars to Iraq. And if the economy continues to suck, the pressure will be overwhelming to subsidize this war with the spoils.
3.A democratic government won't last if its strips the country of its wealth. Stripping, here, is pretty direct. We aren't talking fancy Swiss bank accounts. We are talking oil money going out in ways that everybody sees. If this is the American strategy, be prepared for a guerilla war.
4 The current civil society in Northern Iraq is endangered by American adventurism. Northern Iraq, and the Kurds, have become the stuff of propaganda lately. That there was no outpouring of admiration for their civil ways before 9/11 had a simple cause: for the first five years of the No Fly Zone, Kurdish factions killed each other. They also gave shelter to the PKK, a guerrilla group in Turkey that was as dirty as they come. This isn't to say that Northern Iraq hasn't made progress -- they have. They've done it in the way that progress is made -- it is a grassroots effort, and it takes security, money, and time. If the U.S. expects to 'integrate' Northern Iraq, by force, into its idea of Iraq, all of that progress will be undone.
The NPR interviewed Gordon Adams about the cost of the war a while back. Gordon Adams is some defense analyst. Here is his comment: "In Gulf War I, we paid $60 billion to fight the war. Our allies gave us back all but about $10 billion of that money. So it was--you know, Gulf War I was subsidized. Gulf War II will not be subsidized."

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