Trenchant Lemmings
Pointed missives thrown blindly into the void, there to pass unnoticed and unloved.

That erudite bastard Guy Rundle once again plagiarises my thoughts before I've even expressed them. Does he have any idea how annoying that is?

I might take mild issue with him over his concern that a swift victory in Baghdad will increase American enthusiasm for future unilateral acts of this sort. I'm not entirely convinced of that, both in terms of cause and of effect. Firstly, the US military got its ass kicked in Vietnam* and the pause before the next major overt armed intervention was only eight years - Vietnam to "Urgent Fury", the invasion of Grenada (a brave endeavour to protect the world from the evil Grenadians and their Nutmeg of Mass Destruction). Leaving aside the covert ops, the minor interventions, and the funding and training of proxies, "Vietnam Syndrome" lasted less than a decade. Or, more accurately, the American antipathy to wars occasioning large numbers of American casualties has never really gone away. All American military ops since Vietnam have been small scale, against opponents who are easy - or seemingly easy - to defeat. Gulf Wars I and II are not exceptions. Either way, whether the US government is eager to act in its self-appointed role as world cop, or, like a veldt predator, gingerly seeking out the weak and infirm to attack and avoiding serious fights, this mentality has been well-established for some years and it is unlikely the results of this war will be any cause for it to change, unless it goes extraordinarily badly - which would require at least a US defeat - and that seems unlikely.

Even if the city of Baghdad falls tomorrow, it is most unlikely the US will be pulling another imperial stunt like this for a while. One obvious reason is that the spoils of attacking other countries are measly in comparison to those gained by conquering Iraq. Also, the unpleasant consequences are greater for other possible military adventures - the two other countries in Dubya's absurd "Axis of Evil" are either well-armed with powerful friends (North Korea), or well-armed with a nascent democratic structure (Iran), meaning that any attack would face even greater indigenous opposition and world-wide protest than encountered in this war, if that's possible. So I'm not worried that the US government will emerge any more arrogant from victory in Iraq than it would have been in "defeat" (after all, in defeat there would always be the peaceniks and French to blame) and there's little chance that the next US agenda item will be anything on this scale. I doubt they will even try to take down Chavez. It'll be the usual covert ops and propping up of friendly dictators that we've seen for decades. I don't see the modus operandi changing, whatever happens in the Gulf.

Of course, a relatively quick and bloodless end to the war from here on will make the war-buffs, neo-cons, George W., Blair, Howard and the Murdoch media all look good, but is massive carnage a supportable price to pay to see them with egg on their faces? Of course not, and I can't begin to comprehend the sort of demented insularity that would think it was. The only real worry I have is: well, yes, I say that, but do I really think it?

* Actually, by any sensible standards the US won in Vietnam. They destroyed both halves of the country (and two others) and turned Vietnam into an economic basketcase for two decades and a salient example of what happens to Third World countries that don't do what they are told. Specifically, they completely destroyed the National Liberation Front with the post-Tet counterattack and ensuing death squad operation (the "Phoenix program") and the NLF were the enemy � let's have no right-wing fantasies about the US being there to defend South Vietnam from an invasion from the North. The US victory in the South allowed the North to completely supplant the NLF when the North did invade in force in 1975. Many of the surviving NLF leaders ended up in re-education camps.

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