Sunday, September 24, 2006

Quick Note on the Law of Unintended Consequences

The New York Times

says that the war in Iraq has made the problem of terror worse. Go read the whole thing, it's only a couple of pages. Here's a very telling paragraph:
The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

Wow, so instead of making us all safer by stomping the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions into mush with their jackboots they've made the problem worse?

Looks like the old "Law of Unintended Consequences" at work again. It is that mysterious force that thwarts good people trying to do good stuff for mankind. Like how the supporters of Prohibition were not trying to make bootleggers and moonshiners rich, it just happened like that. The guys leading the war on drugs weren't trying to make thugs in Medallin and Cali rich beyond imagination, it, well, it just happened. We really didn't want to send the opium growers of Afghanistan into the arms of the Taliban, but hey, the Taliban had guns, they were already shooting at us and "the enemy of my enemy" and stuff.

My personal favorite manifistation of this effect though happened right after the Civil War. There was a huge problem of ex-soldiers, many of them amputees, who were now hopelessly addicted to morphine. Science went to work. They came up with a drug that they felt would "cure" morphine addiction. It was heroin. They were right in a sense. When I started shooting heroin again after a couple years of knee and ankle surgeries it completely cured my addiction to Oxycontin. Ya listenin' Rush?

crossly posted at Big Ol' Brass Ones


Blogger Tata said...

I wonder if you can cure poverty with a hurricane. Wait, wait, don't tell me - !

4:29 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

in a very stalinesque way, i guess you can. . .

it would be almost unbearable if i could find a method to their madness or had a belief in their competence. i wrote in a response to a criticism at 3B's where i was taken to task for lumping bush with "good" people that i relish the times when i meet guys like him at the poker table. while they are stupidly playing "one hand at a time" and reacting to the moves i make, i'm playing deep into the game. i will let them "catch" me bluffing two or three times and later make a move that looks exactly the same when i have the nuts. it's almost unfair. but when that kind of stupidity is translated on a world stage where the stakes are human lives instead of casino cheques it becomes stupidity of a criminal nature.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Pogo said...

Unintended, perhaps, but unforeseeable? Nope. The challenges faced by radical islamic terrorist networks (if there is such a thing organized in that way) face a smaller US military than a decade and a half ago when their operations began to look something like what they have become, no real threat from Soviet troops (since that coalition no longer exists), and the rise of tolerance if not support from muslim and non muslim countries alike across the globe. Prescience is not Bushco's long suit, now is it?

5:36 AM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

This report to me is a duh kind of thing. Just one more infamous heck of a job deals.

Only using people who are willing to kiss bush's ass is not the best way to run an administration or a war.

6:02 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

yeah, the bells in my brain and the hair on the back of my neck for this one started going off when about three months before the invasion. the military was "gaming" the invasion plan and the colonel in charge of the "OpFor" (that's opposing force and it's great, fun duty, i did it for a year) didn't even bother to look at any high tech gadgets. he communicated by motorbike messenger, semaphore from building tops in the urban environment and just low-tech hard fought the invaders to bloody defeat and standstill. he was fired. his replacement understood the new "rules" which began with
rule 1: tommy franks has a great plan what he got from rummy and wolfie, it will work really really well without a fucking hitch.

rule 2: we have to hire some iraqi looking people from the performing unions so they can throw candy and flowers during the victory parade rehearsal

i thought to myself, this will be the mother of all clusterfucks.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

...and as they say, the rest is history.

10:44 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

Well, to be fair, it turned out that the US had bribed all of Saddam's generals to turn a blind eye to the invaders, leaving only Saddam's Fedayeen to do any real resistance. The Fedayeen -- a lightly-armed militia -- did what Saddam planned them to do, i.e., faded into the woodwork once things reached a certain stage. So Rummy was right -- about his invasion plans being sufficient. But only because he'd bribed the opposition. And as for the plans for the occupation, well, those were a clusterfuck from the day they decided that Chalabi was gonna be their new strongman Iraqi ruler, Chalabi simply didn't have what it takes for that...

But Iran is not Iraq. You can't bribe the Revolutionary Guards. Those are some committed dudes. It would be clusterfuck * 10 to invade Iran. Which is why I fully expect Dear Leader to do it.


11:55 AM  
Blogger Samantha said...

GWB is all about his yes men, God help him if someone actually gave an opinion that disagreed with his own, it would be a case of ....OFF WITH HIS HEAD, come on doesn't he remind you a bit of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland ?!?

1:44 PM  
Blogger pissed off patricia said...

I think it's pretty clear now that there was no plan for a worse case scenario and that's exactly what we now have.

There's a new book out written by a man who was in there from day one and he tells what it's like in the green zone. I believe the book has the words "Emerald city" in the title. He was on c-span and told how many wrong moves we made there in Iraq after we entered Baghdad. He tells about the type of people who were sent in to do the reconstruction etc. Just a whole bunch of Brownies.

3:44 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

what was extra maddening to me was the way that the men with actual combat experience including gen. schartzkopf and zinni were summarialy dismissed. i was at first, sorry for colin powell being witness to the dismantling of the "powell doctrine" which, had it been followed, would have made the outcome vastly different. and while this endless litany of corruption, incompetence, and delusional vision is being brought out they are, as we speak, planning, and designing a campaign against a much thornier, much richer, and more implacable enemy in iran. they are even contemplating first use of nuclear weapons. it's stupid, it's insane. i'm sometimes very glad that i live way the fuck out in the sticks.

5:17 PM  

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