Saturday, September 14, 2002

Exploring the possibilities:

  • Favorable/unfavorable outcomes from the point of view of U.S. political/economic interests.
  • Assume that Iraq will not beat back an Anglo-American assault.
  • Assume that once in Iraq, U.S. will be obligated to stay even if things get tough: failure of installed govt.; rebellion in north or south; major nation-building effort required (e.g. provide food, medicine, and housing).
  • Other events listed are those considered not impossible (revolt in Pakistan, India-Pakistan war, China leans on Taiwan), even if unlikely.
  • We have no idea what's likely to happen. The whole "regime change" effort by Bush could turn out to be a cakewalk. Or it could be a complete disaster. We thought the best thing to do was flesh out the possibilities, and see how it looked. Our general impression is that there are plenty of low-probability, but highly unfavorable events that could take place after Iraq is attacked. No matter what the military/political outcome, it will cost the United States a lot of money - and that could hurt its economy even in the best of circumstances. We have included the Rosy Scenario (Iraq collapses, its citizens hail the U.S., the Middle East is transformed, etc.) which has defenders. Hey, anything could happen - although we think there is no way the region can be transformed into a collection of post-Enlightenment secular states. On the other hand, there are some really nasty events that can only be prevented through skillful diplomacy and unwavering attention to details - if they can be prevented at all.

    Considering the present situation in the region, invading Iraq looks like a gamble - which history teaches us, is usually not a wise thing for a nation-state to do.


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