08 March 2006

Game Plan

OK, so the brief political thought which follows would probably count as a conspiracy theory, if it were well enough thought through to count as a theory. And as such someone else may have thought of it already anyway.

But... I was reading this story in The Guardian, and I came upon the following quote from the U.S. ambassador to Iraq:
Mr Khalilzad suggested the situation [in Iraq] was so dangerous that without a substantial US presence, a civil war could suck in other Arab countries on the side of the Sunnis and Iran on the side of the Shias, creating conditions for a regional conflict and disrupting global oil supplies. "That would make Taliban Afghanistan look like child's play," he said.
And the self-centred Westerner in me thought, "Well, at least that would keep them all occupied."

And then the aggressive war-game player in me thought, "That's a damn good strategy. Set up a contained arena far away from your own territory, provoke your most dangerous opponents into killing each other there, and then withdraw and leave them to it. Sure, you'll need to take on the victor eventually, but by that time you'll be in such a strong position they won't stand a chance."

Admittedly it involves some American fatalities in the meantime, but it's always been clear that this was an acceptable risk in achieving whatever the long-term goal actually is. The disruption of the oil supply might be considered a more serious concern (and it's one which Risk doesn't model, although as I recall Supremacy has a decent stab at it), but the U.S. has been making some serious effort recently to identify sources elsewhere, especially in its own oil-rich states of Texas and Alaska.

Taking it as read for the moment that George Bush is a man of -- at best -- short-sighted morals, who is advised by people very much more intelligent and ruthless than he is... how implausible is it, honestly, that this might be the long-term plan they have in mind? In these days of militant, outward-looking Islam, statesmen of Bush's father's generation must look back with some nostalgia to the good old days of the Iran-Iraq war.

Hell, it's what I'd do. Assuming, of course, that this was a board game.

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