Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pouring blood and treasure into the sand

The invasion and occupation of Iraq will cost $1 trillion or maybe twice that according to Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, and his co-author in the assessment, Linda Bilmes of Harvard's Kennedy School.

In addition to staging the event and maintaining the actors on the road until at least 2010, the costs include lifetimes of disability payments, the loss of the contributions of the dead and debilitated, higher recruitment costs, replacement of billions in military equipment and munitions, interest on the debt financing, higher oil prices, and of course, the payments to the corrupt.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate in Iraq is 60%, according to Rep. John Murtha, who has seen intelligence information. Presumably many of the existing jobs are in the military or police or in support to the occupation.

And the country descends into civil war. Except it's not civil war, because the unified Iraq was a fiction cobbled together by the British according to the geography of oil, a fiction then enforced by the Baathists and the brutality of Saddam Hussein.

Attempting to maintain the fiction, which is the official US policy, involves empowering "leaders" who are simply politicians in or out of religious garb, people who cannot produce a stable society, and can only exercise a kind of control over a particular faction.

Far better to empower workers and technocrats by bankrolling reconstruction enterprises, perhaps partnered with, but not directed by, non-Iraqi businesses. The UN could set up a contracting office that would have some legitimacy. Creating economic order would generate civil stability, irrespective of what party occupies Government House.

Restoring electricity and water service to their own neighborhoods and industries would generate a self-reliance far exceeding that of casting a vote in a foreign-sponsored election.

The only advantage of continuing on the current non-path is to the Bush regime, who can claim at the front end that it is working and at the back end that we were betrayed.

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