Unfortunately for us, Iraqâ€™s borders were drawn by Western fingers with little concern about ethnicity. As Americans, we may not see this as a big problem, but apparently it is for Iraqis.
The best we can do at this stage is going with what works best. Oil revenue is what Iraqi sects are vying for. With political power and oil money the controlling sect will force its particular vision upon all Iraqis.
Letâ€™s privatize all the natural resources in the country and give every Iraqi an equal share. Individuals can do whatever they want with their shares. This will put the wealth of the country in the hands of its people and not some future dictator.
With individual wealth, they can rebuild their own homes and country. Maybe then we can leave a free and liberated Iraq.
The idea isn’t perfect, of course. It’s not as though we can send the US Army door to door saying, “Here’s your barrel of oil, where do you want it?” The natural resources will have to be exploited collectively, but doing that with voluntary private action instead of a government bureaucracy would accomplish several things. Most obviously, it would be more efficient and the average Iraqi would get more benefit. Secondly, it would split up the action. Instead of fighting with bullets for control of a central government that will control all the natural resources, groups could add their shares to companies that control just a portion. Of course, some groups would still see taking over the government as a way to gain control of the resources, renationalize and the privatized rights of others be damned. Unlike the current situation, though, individual Iraqis would be individual owners and would have incentive to oppose those who do violence to gain control. The companies they form with their shares would certainly have incentive to hire security to do the work that American GIs are doing now. Is there any doubt that private firms could have recruited and trained an effective police force for Iraq in two years? Is anyone really surprised that the US government couldn’t?
Metti’s idea got me thinking, which is always dangerous. The Bush administration has justified finishing our unfinished business in Iraq with the true idea that free peoples will be less of a threat, probably even no threat, to US interests. Certainly a valid point and an impressive vision. Unfortunately, the actions aren’t living up to the rhetoric. Iraq had elections and that is a good thing, but Iraqi democracy may be the best example yet of the adage that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. Or in the best case, the sheep are voting for which mullah’s will do the fleecing.
Iraq now has socialized medicine. If the Iraqis voted that for themselves, it would be unfortunate. But this anti-freedom government control of people’s lives at the basic level was simply assumed by the Coalition Provisional Authority at the outset. That violates our own principles, it violates the rhetoric and vision of what we’re trying to accomplish, and it’s dangerous to American interests. If someone dies waiting in line for a government doctor, it is fuel to the anti-American fire.
Iraq is trying to enforce a ban on small arms. In the US we call that gun control and we consider it anti-freedom. Some of us consider it one of the two or three biggest threats to freedom. (Personally, excessive taxation, limits on expression and gun control are my big three.) We know that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. Why would that hold any less true in Iraq, where the outlaws are gunning for US soldiers? The US Army is searching for weapons and destroying them. Maybe instead we should make sure there’s a Kalaschnikov in every closet before we worry about a chicken in every pot.
Bottom line. Live up to the rhetoric. That isn’t a matter of not interrogating murderers, it’s a matter of giving real freedom to innocent Iraqis. Freedom isn’t the ability to vote on your choice of dictators. It’s not having a dictator to start with.