Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I'm not going to cut and paste Steven Den Beste's email, both because if he had wanted to publish it or leave it as a comment on my blog he would have, and because I've heard it's customary not to republish email that way. Many customs have a reason, so I tend to think twice before ignoring them. I often ignore them anyhow, but not right now.

In brief, he thinks the scenario pretty unlikely, and hard to speculate about anyhow since our method of attack would depend on many details of the problem and situation, and also that our troops need a year or so of rest. He does feel that Iraq would make a safe enough supply base, and none of the problems we currently have there would affect that.

I have to say, he sounds more plausible than this article from DEBKAfile:

Syria Calls up Reserves, Fears US-Israeli Military Pincer

At least for now, I'm going to lay to rest my fears of a Syrian invasion as the 2004 election campaign swings into high gear. This still leaves us with the problem of Iraq. Most of the Democrats seem to want to say that while the Bush administration wasn't prepared for the difficult job of rebuilding Iraq, it will definitely take less money than the Bush administration is asking for. I guess it's not an unambiguous oxymoron, a job COULD be very difficult yet not expensive. None of those who seem to want to call it that have said exactly how it should be done.

If a Democrat is elected, the easiest step will be to start using Iraqi companies to rebuild Iraq. It will be both less expensive and contribute more to rebuilding Iraqi building capacity. Fortunately all the companies getting the sweetheart deals, from Haliburton on down, seem to be Republican cronies. This once, political self interest and the national good will coincide.

The next step is an order of magnitude harder. We have to convince the Iraqi's that rebuilding Iraq is their responsibility. In a real sense it isn't, because if it doesn't get rebuilt it will be a horrible black eye for the United States and we must make sure it gets rebuilt - which involves making the Iraqi's believe it is their responisbility. Instead of blaming us when Iraqi (or Syrian?) terrorists kill a Shai cleric, they must come up with ideas which don't involve stretching our troops thinner yet. We can't guard everyone in Iraq from everyone else when we can't even prevent our own troops from dying. Most of the Shia seem to want us to rebuild - the attacks seem to come mostly in Sunni areas. We need to convince some Sunni leaders that they are better off now then if we were driven out and the majority Shia could do as they would. We need to convince the Shia they must rebuild Iraq themselves - no matter how much we in fact plan to do. Our erstwhile allies the Kurds could in fact be a difficult part of the problem. People being ejected from the homes they have lived in for many years with our tacit support is one of the reasons other groups distrust us. A worst case long term scenario would be refusing to allow Kirkuk oil revenue to help rebuild any other part of Iraq while using it to foment Kurdish revolution elsewhere in the region.

The third step is harder yet. We have to address the cancer eating us from within, the people who consider the American government their enemy. I mean of course those who consider any tax cut good, because the government could not possibly be trusted to spend the money for the benefit of the American people. Many who believed we would have no trouble rebuilding the Iraqi health care system don't trust our government to run our health care system. Every comparisn with single payer healthcare I've seen looks only at places that are having problems. The Dutch have a lower cost per capita than we do - and better healthcare. The cost of our healcare system to the taxpayers is the amount the government spends on inefficient programs like medicaid PLUS the amount taxpayers who also pay for insurance spend PLUS the amount lost in taxes since we make employer paid health insurance tax deductible despite the overhead that doesn't go to healthcare PLUS the lower salaries people earn to make up for their employer paid health insurance - if they have it. People were used to paying high taxes for world war II - and we rebuilt Europe by deciding we preferred the Marshall plan to a tax cut.

After that we can really rebuild Iraq. American companies outsource to India - why not Iraq? Some areas are safer than others, although even the safest would probably require some sort of government subsidy to encourage corporations to move in. Remember all that stuff about the 'root causes' being the failure of certain countries to produce economically? If that was the root cause it still is.

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