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Friday, December 17, 2004


Michael Turner

What is a "dirty bomb"? It's a conventional bomb laced with radioactive materials.

How many extra people will a dirty bomb kill, over and above the number killed by the explosion itself? Not very many (if any). Certainly not "hundreds of thousands". Certainly not enough to trigger "economic collapse."

The main threat is not from the radioactivity, but from the panic over the radioactivity.

Now, for all the talk about how vulnerable our cities are, basically, you can't bust up an urban core with a dirty bomb. Sure, you'll have evacuations, and a thorough cleanup afterward might take a few weeks. Sure, all that crap will wash into a harbor. Sure, it's a mess. But so was the 9/11. Toxicity? I have a friend who moved his family out of New York in part because his infant child wouldn't stop coughing, in the six months after the attack. Carcinogens? Who knows how much of a body burden of carcinogens that infant has now, from all that building detritus and burning plastic inhaled. Radioactivity adds to terror, but not necessarily very much to actual damage.

Then there's bio-terror. America had a traumatic wave of anthrax poisonings not long after 9/11. Nothing since, though. How many people died? Not very many. How easily deployed are bio-terror weapons for purposes of killing large numbers of people? Pretty poor prospects there, really.

The usual scenarios aren't the kind of thing we have to worry about. What we have to worry about is what you DON'T hear about.

Imagine this scenario: somebody manages to hook up the sprinkler systems of a major office building to a water tank that's been surreptitiously filled with an exotic, hard-to-find liquid substance like, well, gasoline. Then the terrorists start a small fire that triggers the sprinkler system on the ground floor. When the sprinkler system kicks in, it causes an almost explosive conflagration on the first floor that triggers the sprinkler system on the second floor - and all the way up, incinerating people as it goes, and wreaking more havoc when the building's steel structural members weaken from the fire, and collapse.

Sure, that's a trick you can pull only once - just as the 9/11 attacks were a trick you could pull only once. But that's beside the point. What we have to fear is not the horrors that people talk about - if those were real threats, they probably would have happened already. What we have to fear is inventive terrorists finding ways to use the infrastructure of an open industrialized society against the citizens of that society, chinks in the armor that nobody is taking seriously, or that nobody is thinking about, or that might have been taken seriously, but where security measures have since become lax. Those vulnerabilities are countless.

The main value of all the dirty bomb rhetoric and bio-terror rhetoric so far has been to help justify adventurism. Just as 9/11 was used to justify adventurism.

Let's face it. Ultimately, we're defenseless, unless we want a police state with closed borders.

I think the best defense is neither defense nor offense but rather in avoiding energy dependence on despotic regimes with declining standards of living and a tendency to focus discontent outward. Some of these regimes encourage terrorism because every disgruntled wingnut focused on America or Israel is one less disgruntled wingnut focused on themselves. It's time to start pulling the plug on the money supply of these regimes. Starting with the Saudis.

Of course, not many politicians in America can let the other shoe of this argument drop: more expensive gasoline. That's political suicide in America. Somewhere, Osama bin Laden is chuckling over how useful the American voter has been for his agenda.


What Mr. Turner said. (Whoda thunk it?)

too many steves

So: Don't worry be happy?

Are you arguing that it's not even worth considering and discussing what we can do to protect ourselves, other than "avoiding energy dependence on despotic regimes" and shutting off the money supply to Middle Eastern governments?

Are our freedoms infringed by having a more thorough accounting of what is coming into our country on planes, trains, and boats? Is it rational to not have strict protections on access to the infrastructure of our major cities (which are presumably the prime, high value targets)? Should we not attempt to protect our food supply? Should we not fund an intelligence operation that focuses on understanding who our enemy is - or may be - so as to anticipate their tactics and plans?

Or do you believe it is simply an Eeyore sort of thing:

"Don't bother, it (his tail) will just fall off again."


The best thing to help Homeland Security along would be eliminating the Department of Homeland Security. Aside from helping scare the population and funnelling lots of unneeded $ to red states to help out with election causes, it's unlikely it will accomplish much more. And, of course, it's entirely impossible that Gary Hart could do much to change that situation, since, as Mr. Turner so clearly points out, he is part of the hysteria that characterizes much of the illogical reactions to the tragedy of 911. It's always nice to hear someone like Turner, a real expert on such issues, refute a dilletante like Hart.


If the qualifications for the head of homeland security was a good understanding of the threats and a plusible approach to protect us, then Marc would be good for the job. Maybe Gary Hart would be, too. However, we need to consider and discuss realistic appointments, and Hart is not realistic.

One thing, among many, that I saw from the Kerik episode is that it's going to be a politician who gets this post--not a cop who is unsophisticated in handling political attacks. I think that I would rather have someone who is battle tested on the streets than battle tested in the campaigns, but my choice appears unrealistic, too.

Michael Turner wrote: "...best defense is...avoiding energy dependence on despotic regimes...." I agree that this is essential, and that we're going to do it now by choice or later by necessity. (Sort of like trying to get your aging parents into a nursing home.)

It's time for environmental extremists to get out of the way and let us pursue energy sources which are available, in abundance, and safe. This includes nuclear energy and drilling in Alaska. When you weigh all the options and consequences, I'll take my chances with us providing our own energy than relying on hostile nations.

Marc Davidson

Woody, I don't think most people would characterize Kerik's being pulled as largely due to his being "unsophisticated in handling political attacks."
It's also misplaced to blame environmentalists, as you do, for the energy crisis. But that's another topic.


Michael you wrote, " "...best defense is...avoiding energy dependence on despotic regimes...."

Are we really dependent on the middle east for oil? I thought the bulk of it came from Venezuela, Columbia, Nigeria, Mexico, and our own sources. On the LBO list, I've heard it discussed to that effect, namely that the extent of 'dependence' on Mideast sources for oil is exaggarated greatly, part of a general anti-Arab rhetoric that has little to do with empirical reality?

Michael Crosby

The position of Secretary of Homeland Security should be an important post. Since it concerns the basic survival of our people, and their ability to live with a feeling of safety on a day-to-day basis, its head should be a person who can command respect and radiates credibility. I would think he or she should be someone whom we could trust to stand up to the pols in the administration who will always put the political agenda ahead of notions of security. Gov. Ridge had some of that, but as we could see in his last news conference, he had a lot of ideas that came nowhere near implementation.

Gary Hart is very smart. He commands attention. He lacks if anything a sense of being in control and ability to keep a clear head. (Obviously the big impediment is that he is a Democrat, some kind of liberal, and independent, but I think we are speaking here of what should be.)

My choice would be Lee Hamilton. He also is impaired by his history--Democratic congressman (though not a liberal) and independent. But he has the gravitas and sense of who our people are that we could respect.

The department could develop an institutional life independent of the administrations--like DOD or State or, on a narrower level, FBI. But it certainly hasn't yet, and in the land of Rove and Cheney such independence will be resisted fiercely. Still, I think our energy, if any is to be expended, should be on demanding a truly independent and nonpartisan "elder" who would oversee the development of a task-focused institution.

The danger clearly is that an agency having quasi-police powers, at least potentially, could grow out of control and threaten domestic liberties. That is why it is important to create an institutional "tradition" that demands appointment of a strong, established Secretary.

No Keriks need apply.


Steve, Saudi Arabia is our number one vendor for oil, we get more from them than any other single provider. See this site http://www.gravmag.com/oil.html and scroll down to a yellow graph/box and you will find the precise amounts.


Sorry, Saudis are our # 3 vendors behind the former soviet union.


Yes, that's what I found too when I scrolled down:
"In 2002, Canada led the world in our sources of imports, at 17%, with Saudi Arabia (13.7%), Mexico (13.5%), and Venezuela (12%) in a virtual three-way tie for second. The year before the percentages were Canada - 15.4%, Saudi Arabia - 14%, Venezuela - 13%, and Mexico - 12.1%. Canada has been the leader since at least 2001. In 2002, US imports from the Persian Gulf region amounted to 19.8 percent of our total imports. The same year, a total of 40% came from OPEC member nations -- which include countries such as Venezuela and Indonesia that are outside the Persian Gulf."

I really don't know where people get this idea about 'great dependence' be it on the right or left side of the spectrum.

Josh Legere

US dependence on 3rd world resources, dominance of US based transnational corporations over the 3rd world, unenlightened foreign policy, war mongering, etc… All of it… is not to blame for the rise of Islamic totalitarianism. Blame the followers.

You cannot rationalize Islamic totalitarianism. Getting our oil from non despotic regimes (this isn’t possible) will not stop Islamic totalitarianism. Becoming completely isolated from the world will not stop Islamic totalitarianism. As long as infidels walk the earth, nuts like Bin Laden will want to kill them. This is the way that religious totalitarianism works. Totalitarian regimes are blood thirsty and find a reason to kill. Al Qaeda has no rational justification for killing innocent Americans. That will not change if we stop buying oil from Saudi Arabia and become completely disengaged from the region.

Yes, strong homeland security is needed. To become apathetical towards that is dangerous.

Perhaps the Department of Homeland security is failing at the moment. But what would work? Should we just sit and wait for the next attack.

Even if the US was as gently as Barney the Dinasour, we would still be the target of Islamic totalitarianism.

Victimhood is entrenched in the psychology of Islamic totalitarianism. Even if the US become the “nice guys” they would still want to kill of for sins in the past. They would still want to kill infidels for sins 1000’s of years ago. It will never stop. It is nihilism.

Marc Davidson

Josh seems to have figured out (at least for his purposes) the psyche of the Islamic terrorist. This thinking makes our task pretty straight forward: strengthening our military should be pretty much our only Middle East policy.

jim hitchcock

Sure, but how? Conscription of troops isn't going to go over too well. Multiplication of troops through Photoshop has only been proven on a small scale. Don't think Bush's capital is going to lend itself to increasing the military budget all that much. So that leaves...what? The strategic nuclear option?


" Al Qaeda has no rational justification for killing innocent Americans."

Actually they do have a rationale (not a reason, but a rationale). No less than Colin Powell, Bush, Tucker Carlson, and Shrub have made it very clear that people better understand that rationale if any possibility of defeating an AQ or other sources of terror.
Even if, and I don't, find myself categorizing the Iraqi resistance as merely terrorists, I would want to know what their reasons for being terrorists are. Not caring about those reasons, or rationales, has already cost Iraqi and American working class soldiers, civilians, dearly. Imagine how many more will die if the US continues to walk around in the fantasy world of imagining the 'enemy' they face in Iraq is a bunch of terrorist nuts with no rationale for fighting, let alone conditions of life that fuel those rationale.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

For those who dismiss the threats, here are some answers. Skip a bunch of paragraphs if you know this stuff. This is a long post - it covers four issues. I have broken it up because the spam filter doesn't like it whole (yes, I hear the sarcastic comments already). Marc, I hope you don't mind my breaking it up, but I had no choice.
The issues are: yes, there is a terrible threat - here are details; homeland security cannot protect us, but it is indeed a )highly predictable) scandal, and some information about some existing homeland security programs that are not; attacking terrorism outside of the US, and oil dependence and a small environmental argument as an aside to it.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

For those who dismiss the threats, here are some answers. Skip a bunch of paragraphs if you know this stuff. This is a long post - it covers four issues. I may have broken it up because the spam filter doesn't like it whole (yes, I hear the sarcastic comments already). I can't tell until after the post, unfortunatley.

Marc, I hope you don't mind my breaking it up, but I had no choice.

The issues are: yes, there is a terrible threat - here are details; homeland security cannot protect us, but it is indeed a )highly predictable) scandal, and some information about some existing homeland security programs that are not; attacking terrorism outside of the US, and oil dependence and a small environmental argument as an aside to it.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

In most scenarios, dirty bombs are not very dangerous. They are psychological weapons. But they can be potent economic weapons, because they can create an area people will stay out of until it is clean (and in radiophobic America, clean means unnecessarily clean by one or two orders of magnitude). Set one off with the right conditions in Manhattan, and a whole bunch of that city might as well be scrapped and buried, and in fact might be. The economic cost of such a thing is enormous, with a likelihood of dramatic political repercussions (bye bye privacy, for example). LA is better off, of course, because of its lower population density.

Chemical weapons, not highly contagious biologicals (such as ebola, anthrax, bubonic (but not pneumonic - caued by the same bug) plague, and biological products (botulinum toxins, for example) all are relatively limited in their death toll, always subject to issues of quantity, quality, target and application method. For example, turn loose a bunch of nerve agent in the open and unless you have a whole bunch, it won't kill many unless they are in a big crowd. Pump it into the air handling system of a large building and it could kill everyone in it. If a biologic agent isn't very contagious, in some sense it is like a chemical agent. Only those first exposed (and perhaps some treatment personnel) will be injured or killed.

The next most deadly is a nuclear explosive. A nuclear explosive set off at ground level (or slightly below ground) in the upwind part of a city is extremely deadly. In fact, this is the weapon most feared by anti-terrorist people and the one the most attention goes into - and yet we still have issues like Russian nuclear security apparently being poor. Such a weapon, even at relatively low yield (10-50kt) will kill tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands by the initial explosion, from blast, radiated heat, ionizing radiation, and subsequent fires. But it will kill millions (in some cities) from the fallout, which will be lethal (say 15 minute or 1 hour exposure = LD50) for weeks to months in a huge area - tens of miles wide and tens to hundreds long.

Somewhere in here are the contagious biologicals that have not been thoroughly weaponized. The 1991 anthrax is an example of partial weaponization, although it wasn't a really contagious bug. The spores apparently were well purified, and treated by an unknown (to the US) method that produced an amazingly good spore dispersal in the air (anticlumping). But they had not been genetically modified to be antibiotic resistant, and they could have been. Had they been, I suspect casualties would have been in the hundreds or even thousands.

Finally, there are weaponized contagious biologicals. Here there are three factors that make them especially bad, with the primary one being contagion. An agent like the flu, modified to be antigenically outside the human immunse system response set, and perhaps with added toxin generation genes for relatively slow but deadly toxins, could kill a huge percentage of the human race. No vaccine, fast spread, extremely high lethality (perhaps 90% or more - look at Native American death rates from measles), no effective treatment. These are so deadly that at the moment there is literally no way to defend at all from them. Only pre-empting an attack will work - by destroying the ability to get and modify the agent (hard since modern microbiology and related genetic engineering is getting cheap fast) or by deterring people from making them or allowing them to be made.

Finally, there are the non-WMD threats. To which I can say - let your imagination run wild.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

All of these threats exist from technology combining with terrorism (or potentially Schizophrenia such as the Unibomber case - what if the guy had been a virologist?). The world has never had a situation where small groups of people can kill huge numbers of people, and also are willing to die to do it.

So if anyone wants to ignore the threat, they will sleep better, but they will be wrong about how big the threat really is. It will be living in a 9/10 world instead of a 9/11 world.

Government reaction indeed a scandal. And it has been going on a long time. I became seriously worried after the first World Trade Center bombing, because it showed that terrorists were willing to attack on US soil with a goal of very high casualties (that would have cost about 50,000-100,000 if it had worked as they planned).

That meant the reigning paradigm (low casualties so that political goals aren't jeopardized) was wrong, which meant our whole approach was wrong. Add to that the availability of WMDs of various sorts, and the rapid reduction in barriers to making some kinds of them, and the trouble was obvious. My only surprises on 9-11 was that they used airplanes instead of contagious infectious disease, and that it was that date rather than some other day. That a mass casualty attack was coming was already bloody obvious and had been for almost a decade.

But the real issue on homeland security is that the government is letting us down. It has been for decades. The public health system, politically, has the same problems. You don't get good political points by spending money on preventive measures. Remember how Ford was ridiculed for the swine flu vaccine issue - think of what message that sent - take a pre-emptive measure based on incomplete information - just in case it turns out to be important (if it had been true, it would have been equivalent to a reappearance of the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed far more people than World War I) - and when it doesn't, you are portrayed as an idiot.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

Homeland security really falls into two categories: prevention and reaction.

Prevention is impossible using homeland security alone. It is literally impossible and will not work. All we can do, and this should be done, is make it harder, hopefully reducing the number of attacks. It is a tradeoff of risk vs privacy, ease of travel and shipment, and economic cost.

Reaction in this sense is disaster relief after the fact. We have done better there, but not nearly enough. And for one commenter, there is now an equivalent of the old civil defense program. I forget what it is called, but it is at the municipality or group of municipalities level. There is training and an organization for individuals who will be living in the community, to provide highly local response and aid the professionals. I plan to take the training when it is available for my area. This is different from first aid. It is not a red cross thing (although their first aid training is something everyone ought to take IMHO).

There are also (and have long been) disaster plans for ares and periodic disaster drills under the aegis of either the locality, FEMA or NRC. This includes mass casualty evacuation and treatment, localized response, and nuclear incident management. I have participated in several at the state EOC level and Civil Air Patrol (another quasi-governmental paramilitary that has a significant disaster relief function - it flew the first recon mission over the WTC disaster, for example). These plans and drills obviously have to be upgraded to the new kinds of threats, and the responders more integrated (how do you impose a quarantine, for example, and who does it).

Finally (before the oil issue which I argue is tangential), the other preventive measure is to try and stop the formation of terror groups, their sponsorship by states (which CAN be deterred, unlike the terrorists, and their acquisition of WMDs). We have done many things in that regard, and are doing more. Some have been successful, some haven't, and some are up in the air.

The pre-emption doctrine is a good one for a hegemonic power trying to destroy state support for the most dangerous terrorists ("international terrorists"). Especially since it throws in a valuable game theory strategm: uncertainty. Who do we pre-empt next? Nobody knows. Nobody knows if we will. But they know we can (yes, even with the troops tied up in Iraq, it would just be bloodier for the bad guys). Uncertainty screws up the calculations for the bad guys. Qhadaffi understood that well. Iran chose to take its chances, and North Korea already had a strong deterrent.

If you really want to understand the Iraq war, look at it from the viewpoint of those pursing it. It demonstrated we are willing to depose folks who dabble in terrorism that we consider a possible threat (and no matter what anyone says about the Iraq we found, it would be idiotic to say it was not a potential serious threat given what we know now or then), willing to do so with ground forces (Clinton failed to send that message due to a fear of American casualties, sending exactly the wrong message). Thus a major goal was a demonstration of deterrence (better than a nuclear deterrent if it works) againt "the most powerful Arab army". Other issues tied to this are that it was supporting a lot of terrorism, was in a strategic location, was small enough to outright invade, believed to have WMDs with a long history of having and using them, and had one of the most brutal governments in the world. The latter leads to the great Neocon experiment- exporting democracy as a way of reducing terrorism. If it works, it will be very good. If it doesn't, it was an expensive lesson.

I know most readers disagree. I just put this out as what I saw in the months leading up to it, reading conservative magazines with good access in a conservative government and that went a lot deeper than the "WMD" primary talking point. Please don't start an argument on it. We all know each other's talking points. I'm just putting this in the overall context of terror.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

But since the subject came up, of course environmentalist gum up the works. That's why no new refinery has been built in the US for the last 25 years. Same with nuclear plants. Sometimes they are right - without environmental regulation, business doesn't have the incentive to not inflict its pollution on other people (in other words, pollution is an externality - a cost outside the market). But environmentalists get way out of hand, and for many it is literally a religion. In any case, it is too often motivated by luddites, not people weighing cost/benefit ratios - one reason that Bjorn what's his name made them so mad - he advocated that. The following link, if mark's filter will let it through, is reporting I did (after the Arizona republic got it totally wrong) on the way one environmental lawyer stopped a badly needed refinery (needed because of environmentalist imposed gas mix variations) from being built on 100% bogus grounds:

The following link is broken up in an attempt to get by the spam filter. To use it, remove the blanks.

http://www.tiny vital.com/BlogArchives/000323.html

Marc Cooper

Rell urself in, John. Next time you run SIX (!!!) posts like that together Im going to charge you a rental fee for the space!

Michael Turner

If islamist totalitarians just wanted to kill us because we're infidels, they would have killed an awful lot more of us, an awful lot earlier.

I've said it before, will say it again: terrorism and especially suicidal terrorism, is strongly associated with claims on territory by fanatically devoted groups, irrespective of idealogy, and primarily directed against liberal democracies precisely because liberal democracies are open enough to be vulnerable. The measure of the threat is not in what the political leadership says (e.g., "Death to America!"), but in what the political leadership will really settle for ("Saudi Arabia liberated from the Infidel and its corrupt Saudi family lackeys.")

Is terrorism an ideology? No, it's just a tactic. A tactic whose usefulness can end. Those who have justified terrorism in the name of gaining territory will often simply turn their guns on those among themselves who persist in terrorism past the point of political usefulness. Case in point: David Ben Gurion - who explicitly listed terrorism as a useful tactic, among others, in expelling the British from what was then Palestine, but who then turned his guns on Irgun when Irgun persisted in terrorism past the point Ben Gurion considered it useful. Irgun was in the end persuaded, albeit at gunpoint. One of its terrorist leaders later became a prime minister of Israel. His name was Menachem Begin.

It doesn't matter what the leaders say. It doesn't even matter what certain followers of those leaders might believe (especially if those followers end up snuffing themselves in an attack.) And it doesn't matter what useful fools, such as the bulk of the American electorate, have been convinced of. What matters is what the real political goal is. 9/11 was ultimately a blow struck against the Saudi Royal family. The American reaction was predictable, and everything that has happened so far works perfectly for Al Qaeda's agenda. It is, of course, very important for that agenda that Americans are made to believe that Al Qaeda is out to exterminate America. But just because they've made YOU believe it doesn't mean the people running Al Qaeda believe it themselves.

Terrorism is war by asymmetric means. War is politics by violent means. Ergo: Terrorism is politics. Terrorist leaders might be particularly despicable as politicians go, but ultimately they are still politicians, looking for some minds to control, in the interests of gaining some turf to control, and lying when they have to lie to achieve their goals (and can get away with it), just like any politican.

Let's face it - Al Qaeda will never have the means to destroy America. America is just too big and powerful, and they know it. If they somehow get their hands on a real nuclear bomb, and somehow detonate it in an American city, the goal will not be to kill Americans per se, it will be to make this hugely powerful America lash out against some other target in a way that works for Al Qaeda's goals. Ideally - to really clinch it - that lashing out should also align neatly with the goals of some striving coterie high up in the power elite of America.

Of course, someone's now going to accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist. But it doesn't require conspiracy - all it requires is goal alignment and opportunities.


Good points once again Mr. Turner, something that I doubt Gary Hart or Mr. Kerik would understand [which actually makes them *ideal* candidates for the Homeland Security post].
I would add that when the Nazis were finally defeated, you can be sure the US's best and brightest busily theorised the political economic origins of that form of terror. If we do that today with AQ, we are told by Hank Jackson Democrats and Ashcroft Republicans alike that that is not a good idea.

Michael Turner

John Moore (apparently affiliated with an organization named "useful fools"), writes that our Iraq adventure ".... leads to the great Neocon experiment- exporting democracy as a way of reducing terrorism. If it works, it will be very good. If it doesn't, it was an expensive lesson."

Actually, if it doesn't work, it will have been a much better deal than invading North Korea, which meets all the same criteria listed by John - and greatly exceeds the crieria in a couple categories. Why? Well, let's say January 30 goes off as scheduled, we get an Shia majoritarian vote, as expected. Democracy in action, after all! Oh, but the Sunni regions decide they don't like this. And Kurdistan REALLY doesn't like this - and secedes, leaving the Sunnis and Shias to thrash it out on their own.

Then what do we have? A Kurdistan allied with the U.S., with about one third of Iraq's oil - upwards of a trillion dollars worth of oil at $40/bbl, and unusually accessible and high quality oil at that, meaning that most of that $40/bbl is profit. Which is to say: even if America only retrieves a Kurdistan from the situation, we'll have what Colin Powell outlined (in a radio interview - transcript available at the Department of State website) as the real goal of the invasion - a stable oil-exporting ally in the Middle East. And the profit will be much, much more than enough to cover the costs of invasion and occupation of Iraq so far, with plenty left over for the Kurds. This is a much better deal than digging into our own domestic reserves of sour crude, which would require about $500 million investment per refinery to upgrade their processes to meet current air quality standards, and who knows how much more investment in extraction.

In short, even the worst case scenario for this Iraq adventure yields positive cash flow in the coming decades. And we wonder why the Bush administration hasn't put its money where its mouth is in Iraq - understaffing the invasion force, undersupplying the troops, and planning most of the permanent Iraq bases for a region - Kurdistan - that doesn't really have that much of an internal stability problem. Hey, it's really very simple: they are just being smart business people, by keeping their costs low, and not investing too much in the rosier scenario on the reasonable belief that the rosier scenario is not likely to work out anyway. An invasion of North Korea would never have been profitable even if it had been wildly successful politically. Iraq shows an eventual profit even if it goes way South (so to speak).

If you want to appear pure as the driven snow in a war of choice against an evil enemy, you choose an evil enemy who represents no moral hazard to yourself, so as to be above accusations of terpitude. There are plenty of POOR, despotic, evil, terror-exporting regimes in the world. But the Bush administration picked Iraq. It really makes you think - unless, of course, you'd rather simply TRUST.

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