PNAC's new line: U.S. military presence in ME is a "generational commitment"

The issue is less whether it would be militarily prudent than whether it becomes politically prudent. In the US politics (and the attendent campaigns) trumps military need almost every time.


Yep. If we have large troops levels in Iraq suffering regular casualties (even “just” several per month) 4 years from now, the political pressure to bring them home will be too great to ignore.

Here’s a cite about U.S. bases and troops in SA – – but it gives no numbers. In any case, it’s clear they can’t be considered an “occupying force,” in the sense of dominating the government or keeping order on the streets. They’re there at the Sauds’ sufferance and on their terms. Christian preaching is not even allowed on the bases because it’s against SA law to promulgate religions other than Islam. ““Morale centers” on U.S. bases serve as the functional equivalent to churches and synagogues.” Females soldiers until recently were required, and still are “strongly encouraged,” to wear a robe and head-scarf when off the base. The date of this info is unclear, but it’s from after 9/11/01 and before the invasion of Iraq.

I could see a scenario where it could be maintained. But it would have to be tied to signficant political gains in the middle east to which the administration could point.

But if, in early 2008 we’re just where we are now. Some deaths per month, more causalties, and no real evidence of democracy on the march…

Well, at that point the smart money is on a troop withdrawal or the election of the Democratic candidate to the Presidency.

Hell, if the burning keeps up it could have a real impact as an issue in the midterms. It’s one of those issues that could ‘nationalize’ what should essentially be local elections.

Damn. Looks like I didn’t need the cite. Of course you can debate Osama on whether we were actually occupying SA or not.

That site gives the number of troops in SA as 5,000. Hardly an “occupation,” though of course it rankles some Muslims that they’re allowed in the country at all.

BrainGlutton’s original question:

At least two of us are in agreement on this one point. Jonathan Chance spelled out the political perils of spending a large fraction of the national wealth on supporting military action while I left it as an exercise for the reader but we both agree that the cost of such an effort in Iraq is formidable.

But how about it? Has the easy, 'We’ll walk in on a carpet of rose petals thrown by grateful Iraqi’s and their oil will pay for the operation … ’ disappeared to the extent that we are goint to have to stay there for a decade or so and bear the bulk of the cost? If not then talking about the cost of staying is just an academic exercise without meaning.

At the beginning of the war, the Admin predicted we would have to spend only $2 billion on postwar reconstruction of Iraq; further costs would be paid out of Iraq’s oil revenue. IOW, reconstruction would pay for itself. Now we’ve spent $200 billion and the oil industry is still just limping along. That will change only if things quiet down – i.e., if the Iraqis are satisfied with whatever government and constitution the new National Assembly gives them that the insurgency dies down.

But it seems to me we’re stuck with even further costs, either way. If the insurgency does not die down, we’ll have to maintain our troop presence indefinitely, or else write off the country as a loss and pull out – and then what happens to our oil supply? If the insurgency does die down – what excuse do we have to continue a military presence in Iraq? Unless by that time we need Iraq as a staging ground to invade Iran or Syria – which I’m very much afraid is what the PNAC people are thinking of when they speak of “generational commitment.” Either way, it’s going to cost us money. And lives, if that matters to PNAC.

A grim scenario but a quite possible one. It looks like a typical GW enterprise in the business world. His history was to start an enterprise, fail, and be bailed out by being bought out. I don’t see anyone on the horizon willing to “buy out” our enterprise in Iraq.

As to the Mid East oil. We have pissed off enough OPEC members to be a possible source of trouble. I don’t think they will cut off their noses to spite their face by going against their interests just to cause us problems. However, with India and especially China becoming economically stronger we could be in for serious problems. Given India and China as booming consumer economies there will be enough world-wide demand for oil that OPEC won’t need to cater to the US in any way.

  1. We’re stuck

  2. There are no easy or pleasant exits. The trick will be to find the least bad of possible options. all of which are terrible.

  3. The costs of continued presense will have to be paid by American taxpapers and consumers. If the level of violence and physical danger can be greatly reduced then we will be able to maintain or increase somewhat present levels. If not, increases will have to come from conscription(draft).

  4. No. The era of cheap and easy energy is over.

I didn’t see the date on that cite but I think it was before this happened.

“Substantial,” yes. But I don’t think we’ll be taking on anything Iraq-sized anytime within the next decade if we can elp it. The political support just won’t be there (absent another 9/11 type event, naturally). Depending on how one defines “substantial” we had those forces there before, in Qatar.

IOW, I agree with the “generational committment” assessment. I don’t see them getting their force increase, though.

Sure, we could just bug out and leave now. Of course, that would throw away all the progress, just as the Iraqis are starting to create their own gov’t, and leave the place to fall into a worse mess. And make the deaths of 1200 servicemen in vain.

But a gradual drawdown as Iraq’s training wheels will come off makes far more sense. I’d imagine we’ll have “substantial numbers” – say a divison or so – in Iraq for a decade.

From the same place we found the troops and the funding to make “generational committments” to Europe, Japan and Korea. In fact, since we’re reducing the sizes of our deployments in those places (a generation having passed), that’s probably exactly where they’re coming from.

In those cases, we got the funding by deficit spending (or at least lavish spending during economic boom times that produced lots of tax revenue), and the troops mainly through conscription. Is either a politically viable option for the next decade?

I see. So if we invade a place and people get killed – no matter how stupid the pretext for invasion – we can’t pull out except under circumstances you approve of, else “the deaths of the serviceme will be in vain.”

Yah, you’d have a point if we were all REALLY stupid. But we’re not, so you don’t.

Nitpick: as of 22 February 2005, that would be the deaths of 1651 servicemen and -women, 1480 of them Americans.

50,000 died in Korea, and now South Korea has a prosperous economy and good standard of living, was that not worth it?

Iraq is absolutely worth it, we just have to be patient.

:dubious: furt, the concept of “throwing good money after bad” applies with even greater force to lives.

RL: 50,000 died in Korea, and now South Korea has a prosperous economy and good standard of living, was that not worth it?

That depends on whether such a large loss of life was really necessary to produce the good consequences for South Korea, and on whether the good consequences outweigh the rest of the bad (e.g., the isolation, immiseration, and continuing menace in the case of North Korea).

No fair just pointing to the positive outcomes as proof of success and claiming that the negative outcomes don’t count.