Bait and switch

by John Quiggin on February 24, 2006

Lawrence Kaplan (with Irving William Kristol) selling The War over Iraq

The United States may need to occupy Iraq for some time. Though the UN, European and Arab forces will, as in Afghanistan, contribute troops, the principal responsibility will doubtless fall to the country that liberates Baghdad. According to one estimate, initially as many as 75,000 US troops may be required to police the war’s aftermath, at a cost of $16 billion a year. As other countries’ forces arrive, and as Iraq rebuilds its economy and political system, that force could probably be drawn to several thousand soldiers after a year or two. After Saddam Hussein has been defeated and Iraq occupied installing a decent democratic government in Baghdad should be a manageable task for the United States. (pp19-20) quoted here

Lawrence Kaplan presenting “The Case for Staying in Iraq” in TNR

The administration intends to draw down troop levels to 100,000 by the end of the year, with the pullback already well underway as U.S. forces surrender large swaths of the countryside and hunker down in their bases. The plan infuriates many officers, who can only say privately what noncommissioned officers say openly. “In order to fix the situation here,” Sabre Squadron’s Sergeant José Chavez says, “we need at least 180,000 troops.” Iraq, however, will soon have about half that. An effective counterinsurgency strategy may require time and patience. But the war’s architects have run out of both.

Maybe if Kaplan, Kristol and others had told us this in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a war.

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Shorter Port Management Ownership Controversy

by Belle Waring on February 24, 2006

Poetic justice as fairness. Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Actually, my first thought, on hearing that the UAE company had edged out Singapore’s hometown PSA was, “shit, they should have had Singapore do it!” Say what you like about Singapore’s idosyncratic form of government, they a) run the most kick-ass port in the world and b) can really be counted on to deliver efficient government services, without either the corruption which plagues such services in other SE Asian nations, or the general how-can-I-make-this-person’s-life-worse attitude which often seems to prevail in such places as, oh I don’t know, say the Washington, D.C. DMV? On the question of whether it’s a good idea to allow a UAE state-owned company to control (in whatever attenuated way) our port security, I’m kind of of two minds. On the one hand, if some other foreign company would otherwise be running the show, and if the same US, union-member stevedores will be doing the actual work, then maybe its not that big a deal. On the other hand, it seems that the US actually had to refrain from bombing bin Laden (pre-9/11) at some falconing retreat because a good portion of the “emirs” who make up the Emirate in question were there too. I don’t know why that makes me feel dubious…On the gripping hand, I have a perverse sense of pleasure as I watch Bush twist in the wind of the very anti-Arab, our-oceans-no-longer-protect-us bullshit the rest of us have had to hear for the last 5 years. Enjoy! (Unlike during the cold war, where naiads festooned with the stars and stripes were on constant call to toss back offending ICBM’s from their dophin-pulled-seashell mobile tactical units.) But his latest defense is, “I didn’t know anything about it.” Whaaaa? “The president is a sock-puppet moron” is supposed to be a snide criticism, not an exculpatory point. In general I am confused and await further information. Matthew Yglesias rightly notes that the alert citizen will have learned not to trust the administration to make S’mores without plunging half the nation into a sticky-sweet inferno of death. Death that’s sandwiched between Graham crackers! Food for thought.

Vote Bérubé!

by Chris Bertram on February 24, 2006

Horowitz has now given us the opportunity to “vote for the worst of the worst”:http://www.frontpagemag.com/survey/vote.asp , and Michael Bérubé is way out in front. Keep the votes pouring in and expose this dangerous radical as the dangerous danger he is to apple pie and all that.

I must confess: since I can’t really tell the difference between the method these folks used and the method these folks used, I should probably just stop having intuitions about the universe since “often deviates from intuitive reasoning, leading to some surprising effects” isn’t the half of it. Because, granting that they did what they did, my intution is that they can go on to develop infinite improbability computing, relying on the fact that their experiment cannot be scaled up to cause the scaled-up algorithm not to run, thereby producing the answer. Am I right (or am I right or am I right?)

Here’s a link to the Nature paper. (above link via boingboing.)