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[Watch this space for: Pentagon and Petroleum, The Media is only as Liberal as the Corporations Who Own Them, Wash Down With, and Recalcify]


Monday, September 15, 2003


From the ever angry Ted Rall...

The ad hoc Iraqi resistance is comprised of indigenous fighters ranging from secular ex-Republican Guards to radical Islamist Shiites, as well as foreign Arab volunteers waging the same brand of come-one-come-all jihad that the mujahedeen fought against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan. While one can dismiss foreign jihadis as naïve adventurers, honest Americans should call native Iraqi resistance fighters by a more fitting name: Iraqi patriots.

I collect propaganda posters. One of my favorites, from World War II, depicts a strapping young SS officer holding a smiling local kid in his arms. "Trust the German soldier," the caption exhorts citizens of occupied France. But when liberation came in 1945, Frenchmen who had obeyed that poster were shot as collaborators. The men and women who resisted--the "terrorists" who shot German soldiers, cut phone lines and bombed trains--received medals and pensions. Invaders always say that they come as liberators, but it's almost never true. Whether you live in Paris or Baghdad or New York, you're expected to know that, and to act accordingly
(From this Ted Rall Essay)

Ted Rall not only wrote the above cartoon and quote, he's among a number of people who have called on us to just pack up and leave Iraq. That group also includes Atrios and Max Sawicky. I respect and admire all of these writers but I think they're wrong about this one. I actually think that we should stay in Iraq for several reasons. One: If we leave now, Iraq will probably turn into Iran, a place that actually harbors terrorists who are hostile to US interests. It will also make life absolutely Hellish for women, especially since woman intellectuals are already being gunned down in the streets. (Please read Baghdad Burning) Two, as Hesiod predicts, the situation could easily descend into a civil war, which would presumably kill thousands.

Now, by no means do I support the Bush administration's pathetic and incompetent handling of Iraq. Then again, bank robbers and thieves generally aren't interested in reconstruction and utilities. They're just there for the loot. And if the choice is between the Bush administration handling of the region and leaving, then I'll take leaving. I'm betting, however, that the Bush administration is evil enough and greedy enough to stay in Iraq right up to election day. The only priorities of this administration is its cronyism and its love of fossil fuels. Iraq allows them to scratch both itches at once.

Yet, the President's own ineptitude has offered the Democrats, especially those presidential aspirants who are now ashamed of their blank check vote for the war, a way to recover some spine and some credibility. The administration actually needs to ask for more than the $87 billion it floated some weeks ago. Surely, the Democrats can act like an opposition party and demand some accountability. The Daily Kos is already listing some of the things the Dems should ask for ( I kind of like sending the bill to states who voted for Bush and of course if they're unpatriotic and believe that we should not be spending more on Iraqi reconstruction than American then of course they hate America...).

Here is what I think that you should do immediately if you would like the very well armed Iraqi populace to stop shooting at you. First, they should adopt the South African constitution which includes proportional representation. In fact, PR, which some people know that I'm a strong backer of, is actually a principle in the South African constitution. Structurally, it's better for minorities. Or as De Klerk noted: "[W]e must move away from the winner-take-all system that we inherited from Great Britain. It works in homogeneous societies, but it is not the right system for a big country with vast regional interests and many language and culture groups. It is not a question of taking the prize away, but of ensuring that a government won't be able to do again what the National Party did with absolute power, merely because it had a majority." South African President F. W. De Klerk People have wondered how you could have a working democracy in Iraq without ceding control of Iraq to the majority fundamentalist population. Well, the answer is Proportional Representation, or PR.

Two, the troops should use nonlethals. I might note that nonlethals can be very painful and even fatal if used at close range but if you gave me a choice between them and bullets, I'll take the nonlethals, preferably in the buttocks. Afterall, we're supposed to be the good guys. We're not supposed to kill offhandedly or carelessly, which is what American soldiers--arguably way out of their depth--are doing a lot in Iraq. This, of course, is why they hate us, and quite justifiably I might add.

Three, anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of the oil revenue should go to every Iraqi adult in the form of a monthly check, not Halliburton or Bremer's quiet guidance. Where has the Iragi oil money gone? Does anyone know? It certainly isn't going to the people. Now, Glenn, our favorite Instapundit, has been pushing this trust fund idea for a while, like in Alaska. But that amounts to a kind of a bribe and its why Alaskans like drilling in wildland. Think of it as a payoff. My plan is more along the lines of an ESOP, where the Alaskans own the oil and negotiate their fee. This does a number of things: it proves that we're not stealing their oil and every Iraqi citizen gets a nice monthly reminder to not damage the oil pipelines. Afterall, that's my property now Riverbend would exclaim.

Four, and this is a no-brainer, the bidding process should be open and transparent. And all those Bechtel and Halliburton sweetheart deals should be rescinded. Open up the bidding process to not only the world but to Iraqi companies and talent. It's not only the right thing to do, but it will save us money.

Fifth, internationalize the effort by allowing UN control over democracy building, something they're generally interested in and have the troops operate under NATO authority.

Now, before that 87 billion number was bandied about, these common sense suggestions would have never seen the light of day. Now, of course, the Democratic Party has a chance to insist upon all of these proposals. Kerry has already said he would vote no if there was no proof of multilateral involvement. But why stop there? If you rescind this year's tax cuts you would get back 100 billion, which would leave money left over to fully fund homeland security, something the Bush admininstration hasn't seen fit to do. By the way, this has long been the Green's argument, that essentially the Democratic Party is just another less enthusiastic business party that institutionally has to screw over its core base in order to survive. I didn't vote for Nader because that's silly math in a winner take all system (go read the PR page and find out why). But there are many times when I understand why the Greens vote as they do and see no difference between the two parties.

The Democratic Party failed its base and the country by its handling of those monstrous budget busting tax cuts and by it's rolling over on this "miserable failure" of a war. They should strongly reclaim their advise and consent roles with this massive budget request, at the very least insisting upon a deadline for when to get out and transparency in bidding. Afterall, if Riverbend is right, we might only need $200 million to reconstruct Iraq, not $20 billion. Come on fellas. Show me that I was right to vote Democratic in 2000. Insist that the President act in a competent fashion.

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