Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
We've got an informal pool going on here at the office. No, not about the basketball tourney: about when the bombs begin flying over Baghdad. This is your chance to get in on the action (no money please: just the enormous fame you'll get from this extremely well-read blog...)
So, a few relevant factors:
Turkey. The situation as it now stands is that the old, un-bribeable Prime Minister is out, but the new guy, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ain't much more maleable. Apparently the President continued to amaze as the most inept diplomat of all time: The telephone call turned rocky when Mr Erdogan declined Mr Bush's request to help speed approval, US officials said. 'It was not a great phone call," said one Bush Administration official. "The Turks weren't as responsive as we'd hoped.' (That was from the amusingly titled article "Bush Talks Turkey and is Given the Bird."
So that means that the US may or may not get to use Turkey as a northern-front staging area. If the US isn't able to finesse Turkey on this one, then there will presumably be delay. Though, the finessing process may also produce a delay. So go figure.
Handicap: I'll say the Turks ultimately bend to the US's will, despite protests from the UN and NATO, but that it takes until the end of next week.
The Moon. Apparently the moon is a factor, so says my office mate. Stupidly, I forgot to ask her which is optimum--full or new? I would guess full, because of the night fighting, but possibly the extra light fouls up high tech equipment. In any case: full moon on March 18 and April 16, new moon on April Fools Day.
Handicap: Okay, a little search and I found this info on the Financial Times: "On the military side anyway, a little more delay may not be disastrous. The build-up of troops has been slower than optimal because of bottlenecks at the port of Kuwait, and the air force may prefer to delay the campaign launch beyond this week's full moon." Looks like the new moon, so call that a reason to delay.
The UN. The latest news shifts like the desert sands, so this is a pick 'em. As I write this, the Bush Administration says it's got the vote sewed up, but Spain says there may not be a vote at all. On the other hand, Tony Blair's scared to death that the branch he's climbed out on is breaking off. The permutations of those negotiations will go on moment by moment.
Handicap: All bets are off.
The Stock Market. The stock market is likely to nosedive the second bombs start flying. This could cause a greater than usual sense of panic, so the admistration is likely to avoid an early-week assualt.
Handicap: Fridays or Saturdays make a lot of sense--the administration thinks this will go smoothly, and likely would predict that 48 hours of solid bombing would assuage Wall Street fears.
The Civilians. There needs to be a little time to allow American civilians the opportunity to flee--diplomats, the press, and inspectors.
Handicap: I'd say this has to be done within 24 hours of the assault, so Iraq doesn't have enough time to prepare. No factor.
So, based on all these factors, I'll go ... (calculating) ... April Fool's Day. Ah, come on, what'd you think I was going to go with? (My office mate is placing her bet on March 28th.)
Dare to post a date?
[Update: current tally.
Ignatius - March 17th
Tom M. - March 17th
Swopa - March 31st
Emma - April 1st
Stay tuned; we're 72 hours out from the earliest predictions...]