Iraq Exit Strategy Revisited

As things in and about Iraq go from bad to evil, and the no exit meme takes root (in the Existentialist not the Pottery Barn sense), it may be time to revive my Modest Dinner-Party-Based Proposal For An Iraqi Exit Strategy:

According to the CIA Factbook, Iraq today has an estimated population of just over 24,683,000, and (in 2002) had a GDP estimated at US$58 billion in purchasing power parity, giving it an estimated GDP per capita of about $2,400. …

Counting just the reconstruction grant [$20.3 billion], that makes a subsidy about equal to 40% of Iraq’s former GDP, and about $960 for every Iraqi. Throw in what we are spending to occupy the country, and it’s more than last year’s Iraqi GDP, and about $3,230 per Iraqi.

Having seen these numbers, I’ve now cooked up a modest proposal for a US exit strategy from Iraq. Bring all the troops home. Give each Iraqi $3000 a year for the next year or two, and count on the free market to conduct the reconstruction for us at much greater efficiency than we would otherwise achieve.

I was mostly sorta kidding when I proposed giving every Iraq $3000 and going home, but the idea had legs.

This blog was a baby then and had no readers (now it's a toddler and has 500+ daily readers directly plus I'd guess about 1000 via the full-text feeds), but the idea either got picked up or, more likely, independently imagined by The Onion (which raised it to $3,544.91, a much funnier number).

But of course it isn't that funny any more. They and we have lost lives; the occupation has shamed and humilated both nations (and our troops have retreated, and seem on road to being defeated, with very bad long run consequences). The search is on for an exit strategy. Meanwhile, the projected costs keep going up: The projection for next year is either $50 billion or much more, depending on what day it is); yesterday's estimate was at least $65 billion for 2005 alone.

At $65 billion/year we can give each Iraqi $2,689.65 per year, which is more than the per capita GDP before the war. Compare this to an Iraqi disability pension of between $18-47 per month, or what ABC news touts as the new, way above market Iraqi salaries (for those not unemployed) paid by US contractors — an average wage of $4 to $5 per day.

In my original post, I did note that “We can’t do that until shortly before the election”. Maybe given current events we move up the timetable?

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6 Responses to Iraq Exit Strategy Revisited

  1. MP says:

    The only thing shameful and humiliating are the cowards in America that would dump a clear and present problem onto future generations. The only thing shameful is that an isolated incident of what amounts to nothing more than frat-house tomfoolery appalls people more than 9/11 or homicide attacks taking place daily in Israel. The only thing shameful are people that are so obsessed with criticising our country that they turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the positive effects our forces in Iraq are having. I’m glad I wasn’t at that dinner party, I would have vomited.

  2. Michael says:

    nothing more than frat-house tomfoolery

    That is profoundly offensive. We are talking about multiple murders, rape, homosexual rape, tying prisoners to electrodes and making them think they will be killed, as well as culturally profound assault and humiliation and you can call it nothing more than frat-house tomfoolery .

    For shame.

  3. Michael says:

    And just to pile on:

    “Rumsfeld did not describe the photos, but U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and ‘acting inappropriately with a dead body.’ The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.”

    nothing more than frat-house tomfoolery, eh?

    That’s some frat you belonged to.

  4. MP says:

    Why no outcry to shut down the high school below? Shouldn’t they, by your logic, give up on their primary mission of educating children? At a minimum, abandon all athletic activities? Would you call for the PTA’s resignations?
    Why is one situation an isolated tragedy where society has as much (and in some circles more) sympathy for the abusers as the victims, and another situation cause for a freedom loving nation to surrender to terrorists?
    Or could it be that an obsession to see America fail causes one to loose perspective and spin, spin, spin?

    Posted on Mon, Sep. 22, 2003
    Sex Abuse at Football Camp Alleged
    Associated Press
    PHILADELPHIA – A grand jury is investigating allegations that high school football players from New York sexually assaulted teammates during a hazing ritual at a preseason training camp, a prosecutor said Monday.
    State police and the grand jury are investigating whether members of the Mepham High School football team in Bellmore, N.Y., sodomized younger players with a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls during a five-day trip to the Camp Wayne for Girls in Preston Park, Pa., said the Wayne County, Pa., District Attorney, Mark R. Zimmer.
    Zimmer called the allegations, “disgusting and horrific.”
    Sixty players and five coaches with the team attended the camp last month. Officials said the coaches slept in a different cabin from students and were unaware of any problems until a parent complained.
    Mepham High School suspended three players following the allegations. The Bellmore-Merrick school district canceled the team’s entire season last week, citing evidence that “a significant majority” of the team’s players violated the district’s code of conduct.

  5. Michael says:

    1. You have changed the subject. Why?

    2. The analogy is preposterous. Among the many reasons why: Children on a football team are not analogous to adults in uniform because (a) they are children; (b) the coaches’ authority over them is nothing like that of officers over soldiers, who are also adults; (c) there is not, from the article provided, reason to believe the adults in this story were anything more than at worst negligent, certainly not they were complicit, and most certainly not that they had an incentive to encourage criminal behavior;.

    3. No one has called for disbanding the US Army. I note the school cancelled the team’s season, which seems like a good start on an appropriate response.

    4. Any plan which involves not educating children is a bad plan. The same is often true of adults, witness the “apparent lack of training”:http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A9130-2004May7.html on their Geneva Convention obligations given the MP’s caught up in the first round of indictments.

    I do hope that if you are a law student you reason better on your exams.

  6. MP says:

    The subject wan’t changed, and the anology is dead on. The type of behavior is certainly not new to our society, neither in our schools, fraternities, nor prisons. When it happens in other contexts, we recognize it as a sadistic form of bullying, but we assume it to be confined to a group of troubled individuals who themselves are in need of as much “help” as their victims. We still have prisons, we still have high school sports. An unfortunate fact of life.
    So why in this case is the same behavior so “humiliating” to our society that we should ignore whatever other reasons there are to fight in iraq and simply abandon the whole cause? If our soldiers were so completely widespread out of control that they were like animals raping and pillaging (as Kerry characterized his vietnam behavior), that would be shameful, and a reason to abandon the effort. If charges weren’t being brough against the culprits, that would be shameful. But that’s not what the prison incidents indicate.

    I’m sure on YOUR law school exams you were carefull to analyze both sides of an issue. US soldiers have demonstrated a profound sense of humanity towards the iraqi and afghan people, to a degree that far outweighs the blemish the left is now obsessed with. You call, as a whole, our actions in iraq shamefull and humiliating, without considering any of the humanitarian acts our soldiers do on a day to day basis or the greater purpose of the war. You make no consideration for the stresses some of our troops might be under, some of which might be caused by the lack of support from home.

    I take no issue with you if you have considered both the good and bad being done there, and come to the conclusion that in your own opinion and value system, more bad than good is being done. But I have serious doubts that you have adequately exposed yourself to the “conservative” or “hawkish” media outlets that inform the public of the things our troops are doing that should cause us to be proud and resolved, rather than shamed and humiliated.

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