Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Democrats - Plan the Post-Surge Strategy Now

What are we going to do when the “surge” inevitably fails?

This is the question of the hour.

I think most people already know that it is going to. General Patreus, the new guy in charge, only gave the “surge” a “one out of four” chance of success. That’s only a 25% chance of success, in case you are really bad at math. The military commanders have been saying all along that the solutions to the problems in Iraq are political and diplomatic, not military.

The conservatives responsible for this Mess-O-Potamia thought they were going to prove the Marshall Plan was wrong. The conservatives thought that they could rebuild Iraq into a privatized, free-market utopia. The rhetoric was all about “bringing democracy”, but as Naomi Klein points out in her fantastic article, “Privatization in Disguise”:

“By the time the Iraqi people have a say in choosing a government, the key economic decisions about their country's future will have been made by their occupiers.”

The reason the Marshall Plan worked was that it gave money directly to the governments of Germany and Japan and let them invest in their own economies, putting Germans to work rebuilding German roads and buildings and stimulating a middle class in Germany. It gave the Germans and Japanese advantages that we lack in America like universal healthcare and strong labor unions. And here we are, 2007 and the Germans and Japanese are dominating the auto industry. Go figure.

The conservatives, in a needlessly partisan attempt to prove the Democrat Truman wrong, thought that by selling off Iraq’s infrastructure and resources to foreign investors that would somehow be enough to rebuild the Iraqi economy. The problem comes back to the recurring theme with Conservatives, a general disregard for the working class everywhere.

The largest construction project in Iraq right now is the U.S. Embassy, a massive $600 Million campus and the Iraqis are not building it. They gave the contract to a Kuwaiti company instead because they were the lowest bidder.

Paul Bremmer came into Iraq in 2003 and immediately fired thousands of Iraqi bureaucrats, intelligence emloyees, teachers and government employees in a “de-baathification” project that ultimately ended up creating willing fodder for the insurgency.

In 2004, Al Jazeera reported that the unemployment rate in Iraq was at 70%.

The unemployment rate in Iraq remains above about 50% to this day.

If the unemployment rate in America was 50% we would probably have an insurgency here too.

Of course, the US Government says the unemployment rate is only 30%.

In the depths of the Great Depression in America, unemployment hit 29%.

President Hoover was in such fear of a domestic insurgency that he ordered an attack on the Bonus Marchers, veterans of WW1 who were in Washington DC, petitioning to get a promised bonus early.

That is the plan that the Democrats need to be thinking about now if they want to succeed in 2008. We cannot pull out of Iraq immediately because it would cause it to escalate into a regional war. Before we can leave, we have to stabilize Iraq. It’s the Pottery Barn rule, you break it, you bought it. We broke Iraq. We have to fix it or at least figure out a way to pay for it before we leave.

We need to stabilize Iraq by creating a strong central government. The way to do that is to give the people a stake in its survival. One way to do that would be to nationalize the oil industry and give every Iraqi citizen a share of it. Literally. Issue shares of it to everyone who can prove their citizenship. That would give every Iraqi, regardless of tribe or religion, a shared bond and a stake in some badly needed common ground.

The way to attack the insurgency in Iraq is to create jobs. Give the Iraqis something constructive to do and give them a stake in rebuilding their own country. Let’s start by letting the Iraqis build our embassy. We bombed them, for Pete’s sake, it’s the least we can do.

The Democrats need to start citing the Marshall Plan openly as one example of how to handle Iraq correctly. Of course because this has been bungled so badly, for so long, and so much damage has already been done to the entire region, that we cannot succeed without including Iraq’s neighbors in more active and constructive roles.

Of course, in order to get behind this plan, DLC Democrats like Hillary are going to have to abandon the corporatist meme and acknowledge the fact that some socialism can be positive and productive, especially when rebuilding a broken economy.

Once one escapes the conservative, corporatist meme, it opens up all sorts of possibilities to benefit America. It is simple common business sense; any costs that the government can subsidize will give businesses in that country a competitive advantage. Want to help revitalize GM? Institute Nationalized Healthcare! Gm has more healthcare cost in their cars then cost of Steel. Want to rebuild the American manufacturing base? Reinstitute Import Tariffs! There is no reason that China should be allowed to put 30% import tariffs on our products but we can’t even put a 5% tariff on theirs.

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