“There ain’t no such thing …

… as a free war.

… as a free war.”

Or so says reader Ed Whitney.

Interesting point. Once you’re at war, of course, dollar cost properly has very little weight compared with winning and avoiding casualties. But why does it seem reasonable to many conservatives and libertarians to drop a few hundred billion dollars on Iraq, when spending the same money to support Russia’s transition to democracy or Africa’s escape from grinding poverty would have been a complete political non-starter? For that matter, if the money we’ve spent turning Iraq into a hellhole had simply been divided up and handed out in cash to every Iraqi, we’d doubtless be more popular and the country much more peaceful.

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

3 thoughts on ““There ain’t no such thing …”

  1. And it wouldn't have have allowed Bush to wank around the world for three years mouthing off about installing democracy in the middle east (prior to giving up and installing the second coming of Saddam Hussein, which, according to today's LA Times is apparently the latest plan).

  2. Many of us suggested such an idea, when we first entered Afghanistan, when Iraq was just a bulge in Rummy's pants. Does anyone recall the "Bomb them with butter" campaign, from Tom Friedman, I think…and to put it all in another perspective, auto accidents kill lots more americans than 911 did, but we aren't bombing Chevrolet factories and we aren't spending billions on highway and automobile safety, are we? Is it too late to impeach 'em all? I guess we'll see in a couple of weeks. And I hear from Molly Ivins that Sad ol' Dam's trial results are to be announced two days before the election day….hmmmm…mikey

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