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Demonstration effects and opportunity costs

09/28/04 | by david2 [mail] | Categories: General
James Fallows is on Fresh Air giving a perspective to what the results of the Bush policies have been. He is discussing his article in this month's Atlantic Monthly entitled "Bush's Lost Year". At first blush, you may think 1972, but this is the year 2002.

This was the year that Bush decided to go after Iraq instead of following up the growing nuclear threats in Iran, North Korea, or chasing Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

It's lost in the sense that by delaying these actions, there were the huge opportunity costs of allowing each of these situations to worsen greatly.

The popular neo-con theory was that the demonstration effects (i.e. the results from a demonstration of the United States' might) would cause potential belligerent states to reconsider their actions. The actual effect has been just the opposite: those on the verge of nuclear deterrence have only accelerated their programs. North Korea most certainly has nuclear weapons and Iran cannot be far behind.

Libya gets pointed out as a nation that has changed its tune. However, the question remains as to how much this was caused by the Bush Administrations posturing and how much was caused by Qadaffi's change of heart, which appears to have been rather well documented over these past years, well before Bush started sabre rattling.

I'm personally scratching my head over how anybody could have expected a set of regimes like Iran or N. Korea to do anything ELSE besides what they've done. Considering the fact that 'reasonable' and 'considered' are not words you would associate with those states, how could any level-headed analysis conclude that they wouldn't make every attempt to gain a nuclear deterrence once the United States demonstrated its itchy trigger finger?

That part still has me stunned. It would be like expecting David Koresh of the Branch Dividians or Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge to act with reason and simply come out with their hands up. For that matter, could you even expect that members of the Republican party would all of a sudden see that belligerence doesn't work and call a special session of the UN to gain some international understanding and cooperation? In your dreams pal.

If the leaders of Iraq or N. Korea were born in America, they'd most certainly be Republicans. Don't their fellow he-men see that?


Here's a link to the text of James Fallow's article.

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