The cost of defeat

We don’t need to add our commentary to the huge body of opinion already existing on the subject of Iraq.  We all now know that the mission was a fool’s errand and that it wasn’t accomplished anyway.  We know too that it cost trillions of dollars and got a lot of people killed. Nor do we need reminding that it destabilised the Levant; we never thought it was very stable in the first place.

Still, we are looking on the bright side. The glass may be half-empty for the US empire, but it’s filling up for its enemies.

The US invasion was arguably the best thing that ever happened to Al Qaida and Islamic activists. It challenged them. It forced them to grow and adapt. Like an oversupply of antibiotics in a New Delhi hospital,  American interference has wiped out the weakest of the ‘terrorists’ and forced others to mutate into much more lethal varieties.

The war in Iraq led to dozens of experiments and innovations, both in the art of insurgency as well as in organisational skills and management. Just a handful of nut-job revolutionaries a few years ago, under pressure from the US military, the movement has grown in many different directions and become far more powerful and much less amateurish.

Evidence of this new professionalism was supplied by the public statements of the latest and most headline-grabbing insurgent group: ISIL or ISIS.

The group has apparently mastered not only the skills to kill people, but also the admin skills needed to operate a proto-government.  According to press reports, it taxes, imposes law and order, engages in sophisticated propaganda efforts, issues a detailed annual report, keeps electronic databases of its manpower and other resources, maintains budget and accounting standards at least as good as those of the US government, and actually runs a fiscal surplus!

It is just a matter of time, dear reader.  Wait for the IPO! The bond issue! And the buybacks!


Bill Bonner on markets, economics & the madness of crowds

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Another thought.

Traditionally, leaders who lose a war do not get off scot-free. Either the enemy punishes them or their own people do.  Adolf Hitler, seeing the handwriting on the wall of his bunker, did the honourable thing; he shot himself. Tojo was hanged.

Julius Caesar did the honourable thing to Vercingetorix.  He brought him back to Rome, in chains, paraded him through the streets in triumph, and then had him strangled.

With the US Army moving quickly up the Italian peninsula, Benito Mussolini knew it was time to get out of town. The Italian government had already turned him out and defected from the Axis powers.  He and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, were in a German convoy headed to the border when they had the bad luck to be stopped by partisans. The war was almost over for the Italians. But it was not a pretty ending.

The Germans wanted no fight with the partisans; to avoid it, they handed over Il Duce and Claretta. A couple of days later they were both hanging from lampposts.

What was Mussolini’s crime? He had led Italy into a disastrous war.

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