Sunday, May 20, 2007
28 down - 20 to go
While trade has been bandied about as another possible agreement, I can't see that happening given that the Doha round is dead and the Dems have turned more protectionist.
I am curious how much the Dems will give on Iraq funding legislation. Bush vetoed what was essentially a toothless bill and has threatened the same on another toothless funding bill passed by the House. In the end, I'm afraid that the Dems will cave & give Bush another $95B carte blanche. While there have been noises about how some results have to be seen from the surge by the fall, once again there are not SMART metrics to determine success or failure. No agreed upon scoreboard. Have heard folks on the right state that we need to start discussing the consequences of our failure in Iraq, and I'm in full agreement. The left needs to create psycho-historical predictions (just finished listening to the Foundation trilogy - had read it back in high school) of what will happen whether we stay-the-course for the next decade, or cut-and-run in 2009.
So given either approach by the US, what are the differential probabilities of each of the following happening:
- How likely is Al Qaeda to set up a state-within-a-state (Islamic State) in Al Anbar similar to what they had in Afghanistan with training bases where they could openly train terrorists and create recruitment films.
- How likely is Iran to become de facto ruler of Baghdad and central Iraq.
- How likely are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to be overthrown by Jihadists
- What effect will the ongoing violence in Iraq have on global oil supplies
- How likely is a stable state to form in the non-Kurdistan portion of Iraq
- How likely is another September 11th style attack (death of thousands of US citizens) to occur.
- How bad will the carnage be within Iraq
- Regardless of our choice, our loss in Iraq will be a black eye for the US showing the extent of our power.
- The US will not engage in another Vietnam/Iraq debacle for the next 3 decades.
For the political questions, the probabilities are low to very low regardless or our actions, so the differential probabilities are clearly less than 5% - perhaps as low as 1%. The carnage in Iraq is a trickier question, already 2 million Iraqis have been displaced, and how we exit Iraq will have a noticeable impact on how deadly the internecine killing becomes, but this is the one question that I do not have a good feel for the differential probabilities. Given that we went to Iraq for geo-political reasons and not human rights, the political reasons for staying do not hold merit, so the political will to stay will continue to erode - expect the US to largely leave Iraq within the next 5 years, though expect us to keep a fully manned post in the Green Zone for years to come.