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Dice Beats Roulette.


Well, I'll be damned:

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament passed a law on Saturday to let members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party return to public life, winning Washington's swift praise for meeting a benchmark aimed at reconciling warring sects.

Washington had been pressing Iraq's Shiite Islamist-led government to pass the new law as one of a series of steps to draw the minority Sunni Arab community that held sway under Saddam closer into the political process.

"This law preserves the rights of the Iraqi people after the crimes committed by the Baath Party while also benefiting the innocent members of the party. This law provides a balance," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

I used to say the odds of the surge working were about the same as the odds on hitting a single number in roulette, 38 to 1. (By the way, pre-surge we were talking Lotto odds.) I think it's time to upgrade from roulette to a roll of the dice. The odds on rolling a seven are 5 to 1.

5 to 1 may not sound great, but it beats hell out of 38 to 1.

And by the way, there's a caveat: definitions of "success" may vary. (Have, in fact, varied quite a bit.) I'm willing to call it "success" if we end up with an Iraq -- unified or not -- where human rights are reasonably well-protected; where women are treated as well as they are in, say, Jordan; where the government is representative to a significant degree; where Iraq vigorously pursues terrorists; where Iran is balanced-off rather than enhanced as a regional power; and where the US can maintain reasonably secure diplomatic, intelligence and training forces. In other words, not Vermont, not even New Jersey, but a 30% improvement on Egypt or 40% improvement on Saudi Arabia.

Would that outcome, an arguably democratic, mostly free, semi-egalitarian Iraq, be worth 4,000 Americans dead and tens of thousands damaged? Yes. Yes, because despite a degree of bungling and incompetence that will have drastically degraded and delayed the hoped-for regional effect, that Iraq, that Iraq-of-our-sobered-hopes, would eventually have a positive effect on one of the scariest areas in the world.

But the odds are still 5 to 1.

Others on topic: Here.

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“Dice Beats Roulette.”

  1. Blogger Randy (Internet Ronin) Says:

    I think the odds are probably even better than that at this point, BWDIK? As for was it worth it in the end if it comes out halfway decent before the next occupant pulls the plug, a look at a map says yes. The center of everything goning on there. We'll know in time whether it becomes a beacon of hope or receptacle of despair for those within it (and without out who want to destroy it for fear of the former). Don't have much time but to react at the moment....

  2. Blogger Randy (Internet Ronin) Says:

    P.S. - Did you see this? Quite possibly "Game, set & match" for Bush if he does it. Now what are those odds? ;-)

  3. Blogger reader_iam Says:

    Well, well.

    But, of course, you're still the "high-road" sharp person. Everybody who was just, well, stupid is still, just, well, stupid. You know--like XXX, for instance, or me. You know, see nothings, know nothings, nothing worth paying attention to, though worth plenty as targets for your mocking impulses.

    This post: Standard operating procedure. Just turned on its head.

  4. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    Randy:
    The odds are still long because Iran hasn't gone away, neither has the PKK, and our "allies" in Iraq still fundamentally despise us and want us gone, and the loyalty of Iraqi troops is still highly questionable, and one law does not a functioning government make. And then other reasons.

    The single thing that bothers me most, though, is the strange quiescence of Muqtada al Sadr. I have a very hard time believing he's going to lay low forever. The surge leads into the slump, when we inevitably reduce troops. What happens then? That's the 64 dollar question.

  5. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    Reader:
    The people I mocked were the people who said no surge was necessary. I've been part of the McCain big-footprint faction from the start, from 2003, saying that we were undermanned, pursuing the wrong strategy, and that Rumsfeld needed to be shown to the nearest window because we were running out of time.

    That position was finally accepted by Mr. Bush only after the Democrats beat the GOP in the mid-terms. At the time I said I thought it was probably too late, and that we probably had too little, but that the essential idea was a good one. Had the Anbar awakening not occurred, we would have had too little and been too late. We got lucky in our choice of enemies.

    The people I mocked were the people who said we were fine, that Rummy was a genius, and all we needed was time and patience. Had they prevailed, we'd have been beaten. "My" side prevailed, so there's at least a shred of hope. Maybe even two shreds.

    But I will also to proceed to mock those who conclude that this is the ball game. Not yet. Not by a long shot.

    And I will continue to remind the Rumsfeld-enablers that they were wrong, and the big footprint critics were right.

  6. Anonymous wj Says:

    We were right on the need for more troops. Which, as you say, has now been demonstrated.

    We were also right, back in 2003, that we should have said to the Ba'athists, "We know you were required to belong to the Ba'ath Party in order to have a government job. So, while individuals will be prosecuted for their individual actions where appropriate, those who were merely members of the Ba'ath Party may continue in government jobs." Which, at long last, the Iraqi government seems to be doing.

    And we were right back then that, rather then disbanding the Iraqi Army, we should have said to all those armed and trained young men: "Return to your barracks. Pay and allowances will continue as before for those who do. Those who leave (desert) get nothing." Too late for that, of course -- but it would have dramatically reduced ths size and effectiveness of the insurgency.

    So many lost opportunities. The years of incompetence is just disgusting.

  7. Blogger Randy (Internet Ronin) Says:

    I was taken aback by your characterization of Michael's comments, Reader. It seemed liked a tremendous angry conclusion to a bill of indictment, as it were, but the bill of indictment was missing.