July 12, 2007
There is a nasty situation in croquet, the six-wicket American version, in which you can find yourself 3-ball dead. When this happens, your opponent has a big advantage. He is the beneficiary of your mistakes. He did not put you there; you did it to yourself. The ball which is 3-ball dead is completely ineffective, and the other side can shoot at it with impunity.
This 3-ball dead circumstance occurs most often when you have set up an attack, and it has gone awry. You have hit all three of the other balls on the court in order to make your wicket and/or to set up your partner so that he can run a “break”. But something goes wrong, and you fail to score your own wicket, and you no longer have the right to hit any of the balls again. The point is, you should have thought about the consequences of failure before attacking and/or hitting the other 3 balls. Assess the situation, your ability and the odds of success. There may have been no real need to attack in the first place, most especially if you were ahead in the game.
You guessed it. I’m talking about Iraq again. What prompts this is today’s article in the Washington Post by David Ignatius entitled “A Consensus Waiting to Happen”. The subject matter is the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal. He quotes the Iraqi foreign minister as saying: “The dangers could be a civil war, dividing the country, regional wars and the collapse of the state.” To me, that’s kind of like being 3-ball dead. The “neocon”/Cheney/Bush strategy was all wrong from the start. There was no need to attack in the first place. And the U.S. ability to execute was overestimated by whomever was in charge. Of course, Iraq is not a game. It is a bloodbath. And it was all so completely avoidable, going all the way back to 1990 and Bush I.