(UN)INTENDED CONSEQUENCES: Christopher Hitchens makes the interesting argument that, if the pro-war side is going to be held accountable for all possible outcomes of an Iraq invasion, then the oppositon must be held accountable for the consequences of not invading. A classic passage:

As an experiment, let’s take a Carter policy. As president, he encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in 1979 and assured him that the Khomeini regime would crumble swiftly. The long resulting war took at least a million and a half lives, setting what is perhaps a record for Baptist-based foreign policy and severely testing Carter’s proclaimed view that war is a last resort. However, of these awful casualties, an enormous number were fervent Iranian “revolutionary guards,” who were flung into battle as human waves. Not only did this rob Shiite fundamentalism of its most devoted volunteers, but it left Iran with a birth deficit. The ayatollahs then announced a policy of replenishment, financing Iranian mothers with special inducements and privileges if they would have large families. The resulting baby-boom generation is now entering its 20s and has, to all outward intents and purposes, rejected the idea of clerical rule. The “Iranian street” is, if anything, rather pro-American. How’s that for an unintended or unforeseen consequence?

Aside from the unnecessary Baptist bashing, a superb point.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.