25 Years to Life In Iraq

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The Turkish paper Sabah and, in slightly more detail, the Malaysian site Malaysiakini, both report that Robert Pearson, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told officials last week that "we are going to Iraq to stay at least 25 years."

This story is a little too neat to be readily believable, but it's interesting to see even a rumor of a U.S. official acknowledging what should be obvious to everybody: that we're about to tie ourselves to Iraq for a long time.

Fouad Ajami's excellent pro-war article in Foreign Affairs (an article I suspect is more admired than read) made the point that, if the United States is not planning for an extended stay in Iraq, the project will be a failure. In January I described Ajami's guarded optimism as being in fact pessimism because I believe the American population is categorically not prepared for such a postwar commitment. This is partially because the coming war has not been sold to us on these terms, but it's also because the American people have little interest in maintaining an empire—no matter how stridently Kaplan, Sullivan, Hitchens and company (and their counterparts on the anti-American left) argue that we're already doing just that. I've seen the argument that the war will be a quick in-and-out affair. Can anybody make the same claim about the peace? And is there a scenario under which even deeper and more prolonged intimacy with the politics and culture of the Middle East can be anything but poisonous to our republic?

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  1. Ignorance of the danger of shark attacks is only a problem when one goes swimming in the ocean in the first place.

  2. Those going to work at 8 a.m. in the WTC didn’t know they swam with sharks. Your ignorance will not protect you either.

  3. 25 years, sounds about right, but will in actuality be about 50 years.

    If you spend 200 billion to get 20 billion a year it takes 10 years to recoup your expense, then being a capatilist approximately 15% ROI. Moves you out to about 50 years.

    Economics 101.

  4. More accurately about 30 years.

    $200 Billion expense.

    Appriximately $20 Billion a year oil productivity.
    200/20 = 10 years to recoup expense.

    Capitalism’ mandatory ROI
    15% ROI calculated (200 / .55) = @ $364 Billion
    364 / 20 = 18.2

    10 + 18 = 28 give or take a few down years.

    Hell, this better be about the oil….

  5. This is partially because the coming war has not been sold to us on these terms, but it’s also because the American people have little interest in maintaining an empire

    We’re still in Germany, Italy, and Japan, 58 years after the war ended. WW2 was never “sold” to us as being about long-term occupation of those countries. And, as you’ve noted, we have no interest in empire.

    Yet there we are, 58 years later. Huh. How about that.

  6. “And is there a scenario under which even deeper and more prolonged intimacy with the politics and culture of the Middle East can be anything but poisonous to our republic?”

    Of course!

    After a swift and deadly bombing campaign on key Iraqi military targets, the armies of Iraq will quickly surrender. Saddam, once he has recieved word that his military has abandoned him, will lock himself in a room and blow his brains out. The US army will triumphantly march into Baghdad, greeted by cheers, confetti, and music. Iraqi women will indiscriminantly kiss American GI’s on the streets. Dancing and revelry will last for days.

    In a few weeks, the first democratic elections in Iraq will be held, without incident. There will be a peaceful transition of power to the newly-elected Iraqi congress and president. The rebuilding will begin immediately: hospitals, schools, and TGIFriday’s will pop up everywhere.

    Soon, Baghdad will become a popular American tourist destination, thanks to affordable prices, friendly people, and the newly built Harrah’s Baghdad.

    By 2010, there will be a referendum held, and by 2015, Iraq will become the 51st state. Peace and prosperity will spread like wildfire throughout the region, and oil will drop to $6 a barrel.

    Let the occupation begin!

  7. I am not sure why “prolonged intimacy with the politics and culture of the Middle East ” should be such a bad thing.

    It is the blind ignorance and indifference of the last few years that seems to have got us all in trouble.

  8. Better to have troops there for 50 years then to tolerate another such regime. What was the cost of the 9-11 attacks and its aftermath? Cheap, especially if it eliminates the possibility of a future attack using WMD.

    Having been sold to the public? How many troops are still in the Balkans? Gee I can’t remember Americans clamoring for that little adventure? Weren’t we promised they’d be home by Christmas, of what year?

    We have troops in the Sinai and have paid the Israelis and Egyptians about 5 billion a year since 1976 to make kissy face and pretend they love each other. How come no one questions this little boondoggle?

    About the cost of the occupation and rebuilding. Charge a surtax on the Saudis for their quaint madrasses and customs, say 30% of their oil revenues to rehabilitate their fellow Arabs. Or else.

  9. I was going through my pictures of Viet Nam and tring to remember what it was I was doing in the picture that some one took of me 25 years ago and who I was standing with?
    I wish I had wrote down the names of those guys! My memory is not as good as it was 25 years ago.
    Guys, remember to write down the names of the guys your stationed with, so you will be able to upload your picture to a web site in 20 or 25 years, that will the the only thing that will be important to you at that time.

  10. Anyone know where I can find more information?

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