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03/27/2007

Senate votes and the vigorish

Laser_tattoo_removal

For some years now, I've predicted that the big growth industries of the future are tattoo removal, 11th-hour retirement planning and gay divorce.*

You don't have to be much of a visionary to see I'm right. You just need to have lived through the past ten or fifteen years with your eyes open. The odds are stacked in my favor. It's akin what bookies call the vigorish, (or usually just the "vig").

Some predictions are like that: Half the teams in Major League Baseball will play better than .500 ball this coming season. A tornado will rip through a trailer park some time in the next few months. The next American Idol will be female. (Okay, I'm going out on a limb but not by much.)

Now, as I write this, the World's Most Deliberative Body is deciding whether or not to follow the House of Representatives in setting a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. I'm not even going to bother wagering a guess on the outcome. It's way too close to call.**

But here's something I will predict: If the Democrats do vote to set a timetable, if they use their "mandate" to force the White House and the Pentagon to start pulling back from Iraq, if they force a retreat from the Bush doctrine of preemptive war—we'll be back. And back a lot sooner than we were after the first Gulf War.

Why? Because, even if we fold our tent in Iraq and go home, our enemies won't. And, unlike Vietnam, where we could withdraw from the battlefield with relative impunity, this isn't a corner of the world where America has only minimal strategic interests. Nor is it a region where folks easily forgive and forget.

Few people could have predicted the first 9/11. But any Tom, Dick or Harry can predict the next. Particularly, when we've just shown our enemies how little stomach we have for the fight.

The Iraq War—and the broader War on Terror—won't be over when we bring our troops home. The War will be over when the values of democracy, human rights, free markets and rule of law prevail around the globe and Islamist ideology is no longer a threat to world peace. (Any other outcome is too horrifying to contemplate.)

That's my prediction. But, trust me, it's not much of a wager.

*Actually, I owe John Waters the gay divorce prediction. But I'm pretty sure he stole tattoo removal from me.

** As it turned out, the Senate voted 50-48 for withdrawal.

Posted by Rodger on March 27, 2007 at 07:49 PM | Permalink

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