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December 18, 2006

Iraq's Economy and the American Presence

[Castle Denizen FbL here. A political rant welled up in me late last night and I had to find an appropriate place to vent it. UPDATE: I've changed the paragraph before the second quote to better convey what I meant.]

I heard partisan pundits after the elections say it was going to happen, that now that the Democrats were in power we would start to read more stories about the good things in Iraq. But I my desire to try to believe the best of people made me disregard those pundits. They were right. Check out this amazing piece of reporting from MSNBC, keeping in mind that this has only begun to happen since November, of course (/sarcasm):

Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all.

...Imported goods have grown increasingly affordable, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers. Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. "The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom," says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. "In a sense, they've succeeded."

Well, you can just knock me over with a feather. I thought it was all death and destruction over there and the best thing we Americans could do for them was just get out as soon as possible, damn the consequences.

Now seriously, I'll try not to be sarcastic. I don't mean to minimize the challenges or the suffering in iraq, but the tone of the final paragraph (compared to the drumbeat of "how do we get out of Iraq as soon as logistically possible" that we've been hearing in so much of the media) is startling:

In a business climate that is inhospitable, to say the least, companies like Iraqna are thriving. The withdrawal of a certain great power could drastically reduce the foreign money flow, and knock the crippled economy flat.

And meanwhile, we get "leadership" like this from the new head of the Senate:
"If the commanders on the ground said this [increase in troop strength] is just for a short period of time, we'll go along with that," said Reid, D-Nev., citing a time frame such as two months to three months. But a period of 18 months to 24 months would be too long, he said.

Oh, so "we'll give the commanders on the ground just some of what they want because we can meet them halfway?" Or maybe they're just feeling magnanimous. But it's a good thing we have such military experts as Senator Reid to tell our generals what is wise (Sorry, there goes that sarcasm again).
"The American people will not allow this war to go on as it has. It simply is a war that will not be won militarily. It can only be won politically," Reid said.

Well, if that's true, that why is he willing to "go along with" the commanders for even "two months to three months" of putting more soldiers at risk? How barbaric to sacrifice even a single warrior in something that "will not be won militarily!" Now, I agree that utimate success hinges on political machinations in Iraq, but that's not the context Reid is speaking in. Rather, he's using it to justify not putting in the military effort that could allow room for the necessary political growth.

Everytime I try to be positive about the professionalism and sliver of integrity that I dream exists among our politicians and media, I end up sorely disappointed. You'd think I would learn not to have any more positive expectations... - FbL

Comments on Iraq's Economy and the American Presence
Justthisguy briefed on December 18, 2006 01:18 AM

"Everytime I try to be positive..." (and more gloomy stuff)

Dammit, FbL, don't talk like that! Don't even think like that! If you do, next thing you know, you'll be mopin' and broodin' and drinkin' too much, and reading blogs late at night.

Please do not ask me how I know this.

I'll tell you this. I am an educator, in the sense that a bad example is very educational.

FbL briefed on December 18, 2006 06:27 PM

Well, JTG... add to that the apparent fact that nobody cares when I do. ;)

John of Argghhh! briefed on December 18, 2006 06:56 PM

Heh. The Armorer prefers this not be a "ditto-head" echo chamber.

Perhaps, Ms. Fuzzy, you simply said all there was to be said, and no one felt you left anything out?

I have, at times, left deliberate holes in things for people to drive through and comment on.

At least, that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

FbL briefed on December 18, 2006 08:49 PM

John, I find it hard to believe that I wrote something so air-tight there are no holes to be found.

But I do like the way you think... :D

curtis briefed on December 18, 2006 09:35 PM

Giving commanders additional assets, but only for a short time, is extremely dumb. What is a commander supposed to do with additional troops that will help the situation, and at the same time last only two to three months?

With a two to three month time frame those troops will either sit on thier butts for three months, waiting to go home, or they will be thrown into a piecemeal hurry plan that will get all screwed up when the politicians start screaming for the drawdown of numbers.

I've taken last second leave that was better planned then this political caveat.

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