OPPORTUNITY COSTS. Counterfactual analyses are difficult, particularly where war is concerned.
General Patton to General Bradley, in the movie version of the Sicily campaign: "What would our casualties had been if we had still been slugging it out on that road?"
Michael Barone (via the rejuvenated Betsy's Page) links two studies attempting to quantify the consequences of leaving Saddam Hussein contained (assuming the no-fly zone and the oil-for-food embargoes could have been enforced?) but still grooming his sons for the succession and paying survivors' benefits to human bombs. One, commissioned by the American Enterprise Institute, is the work of three top-notch economists. (What does it say about the academy's valuation of economists that a Clark Medalist is supplementing his income writing policy papers?) The other is a newspaper column.