October 28, 2004

The Solution In Iraq

After a monumental victory that uprooted a dictator and war criminal from power, the country fell into disarray and chaos. Insurgents of a radical, totalitarian ideology sought to sway the would-be democracy into the column of ever-increasing aggressive, totalitarian states - those countries and people bent on denying freedoms and prosperity that are the right of every person. Street fighting, arms caches, terrorist cells, police murdered, sirens and chaos, disrupted social services, decimated economic infrastructure from years of disrepair, destruction and war. I'm speaking, of course, of France after World War II.

Yes, France. The Communists in France, particularly nasty revolutionary insurgents, sought to revolt and turn France Soviet. They wanted the sort of totalitarianism earlier imposed by the Soviet Union, their ally, and Stalin, their de facto leader. They waged a good battle and many observers say France and other European countries might have descended into communism had things gone differently. With the severe lack of markets and basic necessities, and a demoralizing insurgency after the horrors of a long conflict, the French and Europeans were ripe for Communist upheaval.

The US passed the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program) to fight the poverty and despair that were gripping Western Europe. They sent massive infusions of aid in two large doses that successfully revitalized the country'[s economy and spirits - while propping up the police long enough to hold off the Communists. This was repeated in a number of Western European countries, where otherwise despondent peoples embraced capitalism after seeing its prosperity, security and freedom.

Obviously, the situation is beyond coincidentally parallel to the Iraqi Reconstruction. The scenario has some major changes, including some details about the nature of Islam, the geopolitics of Arabs versus Slavs, and the ferocity of Islamists. But it's the same where it counts: a country ready for a new start, needs a massive help up, and if it can make it to free market democracy the insurgents will naturally thin and eventually blow out of steam. That's got to be the solution.

1) Build up the police and the army so they can at least hold the terrorists at bay. They very likely COULD win, especially if all the domestic Iraqis turn against the insurgents and terrorists, but a win by police force is a bonus, not a necessity.

2) Tariff and tax moratoria. Get as many countries as we can, even those no-goodniks, cheaters and cowards who unscrupulously opposed the invasion for their own enrichment, to declare deregulated or open trade with Iraq, if only for a limited while (at least five years, ideally ten, twenty or thirty). Get them to offer whatever applicable tax breaks to encourage their citizens and businesses to work in Iraq and help build its economy.

3) Grants, loans, bonds - in that order. Send the Iraqis grants in the form of naval construction companies. Spend a month on each major city, completely rebuild as much as possible given substantial budget caps, move to the next city and repeat. Then, after they start stabilizing after a few years, start giving more in low-interest loans, much of which we could later forgive if things turn bad. Once Iraq is doing better, bonds are a better way to invest in its improvement.

That's what we need to do: build the police to a point where they can match or exceed the insurgents and terrorists, then just declare, as Lieberman calls it, a Mid-East Marshall Plan. That's the key to success.

Now, I'm a Libertarian, but I support the war. Why on Earth would I support such a potentially massive spending venture? Well, first, I'd like it to be as voluntary as possible, raise money through donations, telethons, high-level philanthropists, and get Hollywood types to send money to fight disease and build water plants in Iraq. Focusing on tax cuts and not spending hikes is another way to deflect increased cash payouts.

But mostly, I genuinely believe in the power of freedom and democracy to turn around this war. Free speech and free elections are better in this fight than any bomb we could ever drop. If we can get democracy and freedom popular in the Middle East, we can start to turn this conflict around.

I'm unwilling to accept the massive regulation, nationalizations and pork barrel payouts to Kerry-friendly unions, like the Democrats want.

I'm unwilling to accept either the wholesale bombing of everybody in the Middle East, racial profiling at US airports, or the expansion of police powers, like the Republicans want.

The only alternative is to go abroad and fight proactively, to steal a corporate cliche, for freedom and democracy. Since tyranny and closed markets created these terrorist groups in the first place (a long-winded explanation I will not reproduce here right now) it's apparent to me that eliminating tyranny and closed markets will stop terrorists at the source.

That's why: because violent Islamism is a revisionist threat to everyone everywhere, and only freedom and democracy are capable of treating the cause and not the symptoms of Islamist terror.

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