There's no way we can lose the war against Iraq. Everyone knows that. The US and the UK have more...

There's no way we can lose the war against Iraq. Everyone knows that. The US and the UK have more men, more firepower, better equipment, more money, better organization. "The outcome is certain," says Tommy Franks. Okay, so we're going to win.

But what if we don't?

It's a topic nobody has covered, it seems, simply because it's so inconceivable. How could we lose? Actually, it's surprisingly easy. Public support for the war -- above 50% in the US for a while now, and just hitting 54% in the UK over the weekend -- is very delicate. Guerilla fighting has started. Guerilla warfare is extraordinarily difficult to squash, which could stretch out the war and greatly increase the number of casualties; street fighting is messy. Stretch it too long, and you will lose public support, and you will be forced after a while to pull out the troops. It would have to stretch out a very long time given the determination of the Bush administration to fight this war, but it could happen eventually.

And if it does? If a smiling Saddam emerges from the ruins of Palace #15 to declare victory over the retreating Americans? That could seriously suck. A newly-encouraged Saddam could consolidate and expand his control over Iraq and then once again begin to eye up his neighbours, sparking an arms race in the middle east. Israel, feeling justifiably threatened, would inflict terrible suffering on Palestine, and the infitada would intensify. The whole region could explode, sending oil prices soaring and plunging the rest of the world economy into a new energy crisis and a recession.

None of that was at stake before the war started. But now that we have started, we better make sure we win.

Update 25.03.2003: Oh look, I'm not the only one to think that America may be losing the war all of a sudden.