The speech

I didn’t see Bush’s speech, but I just read the text. [Note: the Washington Post version here drops out a couple of paragraphs, leaving the document incoherent.]

The first thing to say is: Let’s all hope the threat works, either to get SH to leave town or to get the Iraqi military to do what Rommel and friends tried in 1944. I know that would be an incredible stroke of luck — having given the Iraqis so much time to prepare, it’s not obvious that giving them a slightly longer ultimatum wouldn’t have increased our chances of getting what after all is the only really good outcome available here — but it’s not impossible. (Presumably someone has a contingency plan to deal with the military-coup scenario.)

The second thing to day is: If it doesn’t work, let’s hope that “Shock and Awe” was disinformation rather than a serious plan to bomb a city of 5 million people into submission. The encouraging thing in the speech was the indication that some planning has been done to allow units to surrender, with no repetition of the horrible, and perhaps even criminal, “turkey shoot” of the first Gulf War.

Finally, if there is to be a war, let’s hope that this goes as smoothly it did last time. It might not.

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