Friday, October 27, 2006

The Arithmetic of Failure

No Economist's View, um excerto da coluna de Paul Krugman no New York Times, aonde este argumenta que é "matematicamente" impossível ganhar no Iraque (segundo Krugman, os EUA devem, por isso, largar o Iraque e concentrar os seus esforços no Afeganistão):

Iraq is a lost cause. It’s just a matter of arithmetic: given the violence of the environment, with ethnic groups and rival militias at each other’s throats, American forces there are large enough to suffer terrible losses, but far too small to stabilize the country. ...


The classic analysis of the arithmetic of insurgencies is a 1995 article by James T. Quinlivan, an analyst at the Rand Corporation.
“Force Requirements in Stability Operations” ... looked at the number of troops that peacekeeping forces have historically needed to maintain order and cope with insurgencies.

Mr. Quinlivan’s comparisons suggested that ... in some cases it was possible to stabilize countries with between 4 and 10 troops per 1,000 inhabitants. But examples like the British campaign against communist guerrillas in Malaya and the fight against the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland indicated that ... a difficult environment could require about 20 troops per 1,000 inhabitants. The implication was clear: “Many countries are simply too big to be plausible candidates for stabilization by external forces,” Mr. Quinlivan wrote. ...

Iraq is a cauldron of violence, far worse than Malaya or Ulster ever was. And that means that stabilizing Iraq would require a force of at least 20 troops per 1,000 Iraqis — that is, 500,000 soldiers and marines.

We don’t have that kind of force. The combined strength of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps is less than 700,000 — and the combination of America’s other commitments plus the need to rotate units home for retraining means that only a fraction of those forces can be deployed for stability operations at any given time. Even maintaining the forces we now have deployed in Iraq ... is slowly breaking the Army.

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