The Agonist reports (here and here, with lots of links) that the coup attempt in Qatar represents a potentially serious strategic problem for any attack on Iraq. Maps make my head swim, and all emirates look the same to me, so I can’t offer a competent evaluation of what he says, but it seems pretty scary.

The Iraq hawks (a group to which I belong on even-numbered days) have drawn an important lesson from the Gulf War, but I’m not sure they’ve drawn the right lesson. In the run-up to that war, some generals and strategic analysts expected tens of thousands of American casualties. In the event, we lost more soldiers to highway accidents than to hostile fire. The lesson that has been drawn is that the Pentagon is overly pessimistic in its assessments, and that Iraq II will be as much a cakewalk as Iraq I. The alternative lesson would be that any estimate of how a war might go needs a very big error band around it, including the optimistic assessments the hawks rely on.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com