Thursday, October 19, 2006

Response to Hopeful Bob in Iraq

Bob, I wish you well even thought I suspect that you are in Iraq as a teacher cheerleader for something more bankable than an Iraqi moonlit desert night. Why aren't you more honest about your presence there?

I note that your wife wrote in from Seoul, Korea. It is probably a good decision to leave her behind while you collect your enhanced pay check. I doubt that she would enjoy the day to day pleasures of living in a country that is doomed to chaos for the next one hundred years or so.

I was a finance major in college. Even though that was over 40 years ago I remember well a concept called "sunk cost". Perhaps you should look it up.

No matter how well our troops perform in Iraq the war effort was a sunk cost from day one. No matter how long we stay there we will never recover our investment in lives lost or money spent. In fact the longer we stay in Iraq the worst it will become and the larger the sum of sunk unrecoverable cost.

Yes, Saddam was a brutal dictator, but one we tolerated when it suited our purpose. He was a tribal leader who rose to power because he well understood that it would take a ruthless brutal regime to hold the different factions in Iraq in line. The truth is Iraq has never been a normal functioning country and no matter how hard we try we are incapable of controlling events in Iraq.

Without a political victory there is no victory, a fact that the neo-cons seem to have ignored in their eagerness to put our military to work "liberating" the desert tribes.

Just as in the financial world an expense that is unrecoverable, say money poured into a company that goes bankrupt, our investment in Iraq will never be recovered. The lives lost, American and Iraqi, and the billions spent, are gone forever. Nothing we do can recover the losses.

One thing I fear that you and our government leaders fail to understand is that there are Iraqis in places of power and influence who never want the war to end. These folks are experts at gaming the system.

The Americans who were and who are in charge of awarding contracts and of distributing funds in Iraq are not up to the task of working with a totally corrupt way of doing business in that part of the world. Billions upon billions of American taxpayers dollars (and money borrowed from the Chinese) have simply disappeared into the pockets of clever Iraqis who game our poor administrators with no remorse.

Thinking that you can "stay the course" in an impossible situation is a fools dream. It is not based upon reality.

FYI, I am a Vietnam veteran who has lived overseas in Asia and South Asia (Pakistan) for most of the past 25 years. I know from practical experience that cultural differences make a complete true understanding between Americans and people of other cultures difficult under the best of circumstances.

However, after living in Lahore, Pakistan for 30 months I am very familiar with the word "inshallah"

Inshallah, our government will come to understand the concept of sunk costs and some day soon end the state of ignorance and arrogance that got us into the Iraqi misadventure.

As for you Bob, I hope you safely return to your wife. I'm sure you are a nice guy but like so many folks cheering for the American war team you only see what you want to see. But eventually reality will set in. Be prepared for that shock.