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Thread: The True Cost of War: Iraq

  1. #1
    Member Member Oleander Ardens's Avatar
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    Exclamation The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Humans always have had a hard time to estimate the cost of a war. One way to guess the impact of it, is to calculate the direct and indirect economic costs.
    Now since the war started some of the leading minds in this field have undertaken this task. The result?

    Between 1000000000000 and 2000000000000$ dollars. In other words depending on approach and on the various careful estimations it costs the American taxpayer something between 1 or 2 trillion USD to finance the war in Iraq. And many consequences are still not figured in.

    Here you can read what Nordhaus, among others said before the war, here the paper by Bilmes and Stiglitz and the one by Scott Wallsten and Katrina Kosec around 2006. The closing words belong to Stiglitz.

    Last thoughts

    In responding to cost-based criticisms of the
    invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Bush
    Administration argues that one does not go
    to war on the basis of calculations by bean
    counters. After all, Franklin Roosevelt did not
    wait to respond to Pearl Harbor until his bud-
    get analysts could assay the costs and benefi ts.

    But, with Iraq, America had a choice of
    whether and when to attack. If there ever was
    a “project” that should have been subject to
    careful scrutiny from all perspectives – in-
    cluding the economics – this was it.
    Just as going to war was a matter of choice,
    staying in Iraq is also a matter of choice.
    There may be costs associated with leaving.
    But there will be costs associated with staying.

    Every day we stay in Iraq we accrue costs that
    will be reflected in budget outlays, lost pro-
    ductivity and individual pain and suffering
    for decades to come. We need to ask: are they
    outweighed by the benefits?
    Last edited by Oleander Ardens; 02-01-2008 at 15:47.
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  2. #2
    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    That's very interesting, but I can't help but think now that the war has long since turned into an occupation a cost-benefit calculation may not be the only factor in deciding whether to stay or leave. Even assuming deposing Saddam will have some positive longterm consequences (i.e. an eventual stable, peaceful, more or less democratic Iraq) there's little doubt that we stirred things up by invading a country which never threatened us and deposing its strong-arm leader, allowing all of these groups to start fighting eachother (and us).

    One could argue that having caused much of the current troubles there, we have a moral obligation to stick it out as long as we are actually a help and not a burder to the government there we helped set up. Indeed, morality has often played a part (for better or worse) in American policy in the past century, and both President Reagan (Evil Empire) and Bush 2.0 (Axis of Evil) were following a long-running trend in American politic when they couched their arguments regarding foreign policy in moral more than pragmatic terms. The result may be a seemingly shizophrenic foreign policy, or even sometimes arise from self-serving rationalizations, but I'm not sure either the American government or public will be swayed to a more pragmatic policy, where overt considerations of costs and benefits form the entire basis of policy decisions.

    Just my thoughts as a student of political science.


    Out of curiosity, how much of that cost was from the brief war itself, and how much from the subsequent attempts to stablize the country?
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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Good luck with applying a cost-benefit analysis there. Do some more research and you'll find out just how pointless it really is. Can you calculate the possible long-term benefit of successful nation building in Iraq?

    This is why using nukes is simpler.


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  4. #4
    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Was thinking more about this personally

    Last edited by KukriKhan; 02-02-2008 at 13:59.

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    Thread killer Member Rodion Romanovich's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Vladimir
    Good luck with applying a cost-benefit analysis there. Do some more research and you'll find out just how pointless it really is. Can you calculate the possible long-term benefit of successful nation building in Iraq?

    This is why using nukes is simpler.
    Yeah, it would save ALL FUTURE EXPENSES since once the world-wide implicit agreement not to use nukes is broken, it's only a matter of a few decades before we'll have all major powers using it, and from there, only a few decades before we get to nuclear annihilation.

    ---

    Cost-benefit analysis clearly showed already before the invasion that simply not invading Iraq would have been better both from a moral and diplomatic point of view, and from an economical point of view, for the American people in general and USA in general. Cost-benefit analysis however also showed that the upper class right wing Christian minority in America would on average make a lot of economical (but hardly moral or diplomatical) benefit from doing an invasion.
    Last edited by Rodion Romanovich; 02-01-2008 at 16:00.
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  6. #6
    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodion Romanovich
    Cost-benefit analysis clearly showed already before the invasion that simply not invading Iraq would have been better both from a moral and diplomatic point of view, and from an economical point of view, for the American people in general and USA in general. Cost-benefit analysis however also showed that the upper class right wing Christian minority in America would on average make a lot of economical (but hardly moral or diplomatical) benefit from doing an invasion.
    You mean to say either neocon or evangelical. The latter are quite often the ones fighting the war.


    Reinvent the British and you get a global finance center, edible food and better service. Reinvent the French and you may just get more Germans.
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  7. #7
    Needs more flowers Moderator drone's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Oh, come off it. We all know that the oil profits will more than pay for the war!
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    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragony
    Was thinking more about this personally

    Monetary cost pales in comparision.

    EDIT: Not meant to discredit/derail thread in anyway. I understand that monetary issue is important and interesting I was just concurring with Fragony.
    Last edited by KukriKhan; 02-02-2008 at 13:59.

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  9. #9
    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by spmetla
    Monetary cost pales in comparision.
    Agreed but the OP did set up the thread well:

    Humans always have had a hard time to estimate the cost of a war. One way to guess the impact of it, is to calculate the direct and indirect economic costs.



    Some people just need quantifiable metrics.


    Reinvent the British and you get a global finance center, edible food and better service. Reinvent the French and you may just get more Germans.
    Quote Originally Posted by Evil_Maniac From Mars
    How do you motivate your employees? Waterboarding, of course.
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  10. #10
    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Who exactly would that be? What income brackets? How right of center? Do they have to be a member of certain Christian denominations? Is it neccessary to possess all three of those traits to gain from the invasion? Rich seems obvious enough (since it would be mostly wealthy stockholders and business owners, and maybe some of their employees, who would benefit from government contracts from the war), but what effect does being Christian have on their ability to profit from the war? Do wealthy right wing atheists or members of non-Christian faiths not profit? Have we done something to leave rich liberal Christians out of the supposed "grab bag o' Iraq War goodies"?

    Are there some graphs I can see, with a line showing a rise in profits for an "upper class right wing Christian minority" starting with the beginning of the war and continuing as it goes on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodion Romanovich
    [B]Cost-benefit analysis however also showed that the upper class right wing Christian minority in America would on average make a lot of economical (but hardly moral or diplomatical) benefit from doing an invasion.
    Last edited by Zim; 02-02-2008 at 04:08.
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  11. #11
    Thread killer Member Rodion Romanovich's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Under construction...

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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodion Romanovich
    Example of the word 'average.' ^


    Reinvent the British and you get a global finance center, edible food and better service. Reinvent the French and you may just get more Germans.
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    How do you motivate your employees? Waterboarding, of course.
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  13. #13
    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    What the cost for the state is doesn't matter, what matters is the benefit of the private corporations.

    People have made tons of money on this war, like they do in every war.
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  14. #14
    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Gee, thank you for clearing that up.

    I'll try to simplify my previous post for the sake of clarification, since it was apparently misunderstood.

    1. How is it determined that one is a member of this "upper class right wing Christian minority" in America which on average will profit from the war? How rich? How far to the right politically? How Christian? Does it have to be a certain kind of Christian?

    2. How exactly do these characteristics affect whether one would profit from the war? Are all three ? Does the absence of one or two of them make one less likely to benefit economically from the war?

    3. Is there any proof at all that your statement is true, or is it just a poorly informed opinion based on your beliefs about a certain subset of the American people. If the latter, we can discard it as irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodion Romanovich
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    Thread killer Member Rodion Romanovich's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Zim
    Gee, thank you for clearing that up.

    I'll try to simplify my previous post for the sake of clarification, since it was apparently misunderstood.

    1. How is it determined that one is a member of this "upper class right wing Christian minority" in America which on average will profit from the war? How rich? How far to the right politically? How Christian? Does it have to be a certain kind of Christian?

    2. How exactly do these characteristics affect whether one would profit from the war? Are all three ? Does the absence of one or two of them make one less likely to benefit economically from the war?

    3. Is there any proof at all that your statement is true, or is it just a poorly informed opinion based on your beliefs about a certain subset of the American people. If the latter, we can discard it as irrelevant.
    I was apparently unclear. A claim of "average" value for a particular group doesn't say anything about causes, or that every member of the group gets a high value because the average is high. I didn't make any interpretations of the information and so I find it annoying that you keep trying to give me responsibility for some interpretations which you make out of that information.

    As for what causes it, I only have theories, and do not claim to have facts. It could have to do with the fact that among this group there are more oil company involved people, and people involved in various business that gets rebuilding contracts, and the fact that these people were the ones who were arguing the most for carrying out this crusade. But this was not part of my above claim so your post isn't really relevant. You're trying to make me defend a standpoint I don't have.
    Last edited by Rodion Romanovich; 02-03-2008 at 09:38.
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    Philologist Senior Member ajaxfetish's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Would you mind sharing the 'information?' What statistics are these, which showed that the upper-class conservative Christian minority has benefitted from the war? And who compiled them?

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    Thread killer Member Rodion Romanovich's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    No, I'm not a dictionary of references to every statistical piece of data I've ever heard in my life. It seems very likely though that it came from newspapers or TV news. So I can't give a reference, but I can give a quite good motivation for why it seems like a reasonable claim from whoever made it: the mere fact that the right-wing conservative Christian group is one of the few groups that has more than 50% who support the crusade in Iraq.

    (For all Political-correctness nazis: again, this is not a claim about all members of the group)
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    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Nobody is asking you to defend a standpoint you don't have. They're asking you defend a statement which you made.

    [QUOTE=Rodion Romanovich]
    Cost-benefit analysis however also showed that the upper class right wing Christian minority in America would on average make a lot of economical (but hardly moral or diplomatical) benefit from doing an invasion.[/QUOTE}

    To quote your own source for the meaning of the word average:

    "In mathematics, an average, or central tendency of a data set refers to a measure of the "middle" or "expected" value of the data set."

    If you're going to make a statement like the one you made, you should have something better to back it up than "I think I heard it on the news once". Saying things like "Cost-benefit analysis...showed" or the word "average" with a link to its mathematical definition just further increase the burden to back up what you said with hard facts. Otherwise you've just made a rather unpleasant insinuation about a large group of people for no good reason.

    Look at the OP. Since people often have trouble measuring the cost of human lives in wars, he tried to show it in a way most people can understand, in terms of money. He did not say "studies show the Iraq War has cost x dollars". He looked up the informaion he wanted, then gave it with three citations. If you want to make statements of fact showing some degree of certainty (even an average) you better be able to back it up if challenged, or start it off saying something along the lines of "I think" or "I believe".

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodion Romanovich
    I was apparently unclear. A claim of "average" value for a particular group doesn't say anything about causes, or that every member of the group gets a high value because the average is high. I didn't make any interpretations of the information and so I find it annoying that you keep trying to give me responsibility for some interpretations which you make out of that information.

    As for what causes it, I only have theories, and do not claim to have facts. It could have to do with the fact that among this group there are more oil company involved people, and people involved in various business that gets rebuilding contracts, and the fact that these people were the ones who were arguing the most for carrying out this crusade. But this was not part of my above claim so your post isn't really relevant. You're trying to make me defend a standpoint I don't have.
    Last edited by Zim; 02-03-2008 at 10:38.
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  19. #19
    Thread killer Member Rodion Romanovich's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Edit: nvm, it's not worth it
    Last edited by Rodion Romanovich; 02-03-2008 at 11:13.
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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    The Economist has done an article on the cost of occupation vs merely fighting a "mini cold war". Value on human life was either quantified as to utility of ignored (sorry, old article and I've forgotten).

    Of course the cost is also dependant what you are tying to stop. If another Iran-Iraq war / Israel bombing the place / internal insurrection isn't a problem the costs are far less than trying to completely quarantine the state.

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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk
    The Economist has done an article on the cost of occupation vs merely fighting a "mini cold war". Value on human life was either quantified as to utility of ignored (sorry, old article and I've forgotten).

    Of course the cost is also dependant what you are tying to stop. If another Iran-Iraq war / Israel bombing the place / internal insurrection isn't a problem the costs are far less than trying to completely quarantine the state.

    Another example: Calculate the cost of Uday Hussein running a nuclear capable Iraq.


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  22. #22
    Member Member Oleander Ardens's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    I think most people here have neither understood the nature of cost-benefit calculations and the concept of sunken costs.

    1) This papers actually take the "savings" into account, for example for the termination of the non-fly zones. Infact they try to be conservative.

    2) Thus they do not figure in the intangible effects of this invasion which currently consists of greatly increased hatred and aversion for the USA. A stable Iraq is still a dream, the anger at the US is real.

    3) By calculating the the direct costs of the war and not just the small part of it which gets budgeted they give as rough estimations. Still this rough estimations are far closer to the reality than the one given by the annual budget. It is all a matter of cause and effect of the costs vs. time and location of them in a budget.

    4) With the technical issues answered I wonder just how we should govern a country if we do not look at the direct costs and benefits of our choices. Than we can guees what indirect effects our goals and strategies might bring as a whole.

    5) Basically it boils down to this. The decision of invading Iraq was more likely founded on a moral impetus of Mr. Bush than a rational analysis of the facts. Then his advisers tried to uncover some arguments for doing it, using anything from alleged Al-Quadia connections, WMD and humanitarian aspects. Perhaps the most common error in strategy.

    6) The studies shows just how much it costs to stay in Iraq and how much is already spent. There are examples in history that "staying on course" was a way to lead to even higher costs with no benefits and a way with higher costs but with a more desiderable ending. We will see...
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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Oleander Ardens
    5) Basically it boils down to this. The decision of invading Iraq was more likely founded on a moral impetus of Mr. Bush than a rational analysis of the facts. Then his advisers tried to uncover some arguments for doing it, using anything from alleged Al-Quadia connections, WMD and humanitarian aspects. Perhaps the most common error in strategy.
    It's unfortunate that you used this as your "summary" because it clearly contradicts the facts. [Faulty] intelligence reports, breaches of the '91 ceasefire, ignoring/violating numerous UN resolutions, etc were the reasons for the invasion. Your biases and perception may lead you to believe your statement is true, but the facts laid out in Colin Powell's presentation to the UN, and what I just mentioned were among the real reasons. This was well before the tales of Baghdad Bob.

    This is old hat and really tiresome to keep explaining to people.


    *spelling
    Last edited by Vladimir; 02-04-2008 at 22:44.


    Reinvent the British and you get a global finance center, edible food and better service. Reinvent the French and you may just get more Germans.
    Quote Originally Posted by Evil_Maniac From Mars
    How do you motivate your employees? Waterboarding, of course.
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  24. #24
    Member Member Oleander Ardens's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Being called biased by you is proof enough that I'm well grounded in the realities of this world.

    Thanks
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    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Oleander Ardens
    Being called biased by you is proof enough that I'm well grounded in the realities of this world.

    Thanks
    Glad to hear that I'm your reality check!

    Everyone has biases my friend.


    Reinvent the British and you get a global finance center, edible food and better service. Reinvent the French and you may just get more Germans.
    Quote Originally Posted by Evil_Maniac From Mars
    How do you motivate your employees? Waterboarding, of course.
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    Down with dried flowers!
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  26. #26
    Guest Boyar Son's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    And what are we gonna get out of Iraq?
    Last edited by KukriKhan; 02-06-2008 at 14:01.

  27. #27
    Enlightened Despot Member Vladimir's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    You're not paying attention. Bush's necon rich Christian oil buddies are there for teh oil.


    Reinvent the British and you get a global finance center, edible food and better service. Reinvent the French and you may just get more Germans.
    Quote Originally Posted by Evil_Maniac From Mars
    How do you motivate your employees? Waterboarding, of course.
    Ik hou van ferme grieten en dikke pinten
    Down with dried flowers!
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  28. #28
    Master of Few Words Senior Member KukriKhan's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    At 6 billion usd per month for Iraq ops, levied on a labor force of 142 million (according to the CIA Factbook on the USA), that's $42.25 (roughly) for every worker in the US. The cost of a second-tier video game. Each month. Since March 2003. *

    Only it doesn't come out of pockets, wallets or checkbooks, it's on our national 'credit card', which bank is owned by (mostly) the People's Republic of China, who graciously buy our bonds and notes, because we always pay, seldom seek financial forgiveness, and wanna be seen as good, strong guys.

    So, what does the american worker get for his monthly tithe on his/her future earnings? A secure, 9-11-free world? A free flow of oil? Entertaining war footage on the TV?

    And, what happens if the 'bank' gets in trouble, or gets a wild political 'hair' and presents the bonds, notes, and securities for immediate payment, at, albeit, a lesser rate of redemption?

    Would Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or Rupert Murdoch endorse that business model? Would Jerome Kerviel?

    *and some of us send our first-born sons for 22 months on duty there. How is that cost assessed?
    Last edited by KukriKhan; 02-13-2008 at 05:39.
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  29. #29
    Poll Smoker Senior Member CountArach's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    Quote Originally Posted by Zim
    That's very interesting, but I can't help but think now that the war has long since turned into an occupation a cost-benefit calculation may not be the only factor in deciding whether to stay or leave. Even assuming deposing Saddam will have some positive longterm consequences (i.e. an eventual stable, peaceful, more or less democratic Iraq) there's little doubt that we stirred things up by invading a country which never threatened us and deposing its strong-arm leader, allowing all of these groups to start fighting eachother (and us).
    No, a cost-benefit analysis cannot be the only factor in deciding to leave. However, I disagree with oneof the things you type here. Saddam was one of the only hopes for stability in the region, whether people like it or not. Considering the years of meddling in the affairs of the Middle East that the US had done, he had managed to bring stability. Democracy would have eventually risen (It always does in oppressed nations), and this internal Democracy movement in all likelihood would have been far more stable than the current one. I seem to recall reading something from a pro-Democracy leader in Iraq, who said that the Coalition invasion actually hurt the chance of a thriving Democracy being founded.
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  30. #30
    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The True Cost of War: Iraq

    I would think that my typing "Even assuming deposing Saddam will have some positive longterm consequences " expressed my reservations about such a thing actually happening.

    I can't really say whether deposing Saddam will help or hurt the chances for democratization in Iraq. However, I don't agree that democracy always arises in oppressed nations. Oppression sometimes results in revolution, but revolutionaries are rather rarely democrats, and often institute yet another authoritarian government.

    For every "wave" of democracy in the last century, there followed many failures, and even today several countries (for example Venezuela) have seen their leaders push their countries in a more authoritarian direction, partly due to the failure of democratic governments to meet the expectations of their people.

    The causes that affect both the success and the failure of democratization are complex and not completely understood today, with many competing theories. The perceived failure of a nondemocratic government to fulfill the needs of the people can result in that government being overthrown in favor of a democratic one, but a similiar failure on the part of a young democracy can result in the opposite. Cultural conflicts such as those found in Iraq tend to lower the chances of an enduring democratic government forming. Some theorist attribute a country's likelihood of democratizing to economic factors, or social ones.

    Basically all I mean to say is that there's more to it that whether a people are oppressed or not. If you give me a bit of time, I can look up some of the opposing theories on democratization. It's been a few years since I studied the subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by CountArach
    No, a cost-benefit analysis cannot be the only factor in deciding to leave. However, I disagree with oneof the things you type here. Saddam was one of the only hopes for stability in the region, whether people like it or not. Considering the years of meddling in the affairs of the Middle East that the US had done, he had managed to bring stability. Democracy would have eventually risen (It always does in oppressed nations), and this internal Democracy movement in all likelihood would have been far more stable than the current one. I seem to recall reading something from a pro-Democracy leader in Iraq, who said that the Coalition invasion actually hurt the chance of a thriving Democracy being founded.
    Last edited by Zim; 02-13-2008 at 09:03.
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