Winning Iraq

It seems every morning I wake up to news of another handful of coalition forces being killed and injured, looting on the rise (and I mean looting rather than claiming Saddam's former possessions), and other indications that the Iraqis aren't all that civillized. But what about the stories I've linked to and commented on in the past suggesting that the Iraqis were creating their own catallarchy, the civil order of market based society? What is going on?
Details coming to the US from Iraq are sketchy, but with some thought I think we can piece together what some of the problems are.

We need to start near the time Pres. Bush declared victory. Coalition forces held most of Iraq, a small underground resistance was organizing, and many terrorists and would be terrorists went to Iraq to bolster the resistance. If this was not bad enough, coalition forces than made several strategic blunders.

The first blunder began during the invasion and is extremely counter-intuitive. Coalition forces began disarming Iraqis. Now, I said this is counter-intuitive. The common thinking is that the Iraqis need to be disarmed to prevent them from harming coalition soldiers. The problem is that Iraqis willing to get close enough to coalition forces to have weapons taken away are probably not the enemy, and would otherwise bear no ill will towards their liberators. The enemy gets close only long enough to spring the trap. It is the enemy that needs to be disarmed yet they will not be, the enemy will avoid coalition forces while armed (unless actively attacking) and thus not be disarmed, while potential allies are disproportionately disarmed. This creates another problem, the Iraqis have a gun culture that makes Texas gun culture look like a New England socialist victim disarmament culture. Now to be fair (and pick another nit) the coalition government did specifically state that Iraqis would be allowed to keep "reasonable" types and quantities of small arms, but this seems to be inconsistently practiced, with many complaints of coalition forces not allowing Iraqis to keep any weapons, and a number of complaints that citizens can no longer defend themselves against looters.

Blunder number two is the no-knock midnight raid. Midnight raids are one of the things that led us to conclude that Saddam is an evil tyrant. At least coalition forces do not rape the women as part of the raid like Saddam's cronies did. Still, midnight raids are not helping our cause. The reason given for midnight raids is protecting coalition troops, but it is a short term gain with huge losses down the road. Neighbors hear of the raid and worry that the only change is the regime and nothing else. Midnight raids do nothing for creating allies of reasonable Iraqis. Openly and obviously going through due process to get those suspected of collaborating with the resistance, and taking care of the matter openly and quickly will go a long way towards reassuring the reasonable Iraqi. It is a real PITA, but will build far more goodwill.

Blunder number three is what I believe to be the big one. It is strictly economic. Where the coalition has allowed it, markets are thriving. The problem is that the capital intensive infrastructure is being centrally planned and controlled. The coalition has determined that Iraqi businessmen must be given preference and in some cases non-Iraqis are not even allowed to build enterprises in Iraq. On the face it seems fair, but Iraqis no longer have the capital to take on the many infrastructure type projects. As war always does, the capital base is greatly reduced. No matter how much money we pump in, or how much we try to prop up the Iraqi dinar, there is still not enough capital, not enough generators, buildings, phone switches, cabling, and earth movers within Iraq to rebuild. Outside investment will be necessary and several companies have stepped forward to provide it (or in the case of one cell phone company just provided it). The coalition government needs to get the hell out of the way and allow anyone who wishes to invest in Iraq to do so. Allowing the cell phone companies to light up their networks would have been a huge public relations bonanza for the coalition.

I have not yet said anything about the terrorists. The problems and the solutions I have mentioned are geared towards winning the hearts and minds of reasonable Iraqis. As more Iraqis see, understand, and experience the benefits of a liberal society the more they will not tolerate terrorists. The reasonable Iraqis become a powerful force applying peer pressure on those Iraqis that can be talked out of terrorism, and help eliminate those that are set on such barbaric behavior.

Occupation is very difficult, but not impossible. I have only touched on three of the problems facing the coalition, yet fixing these three things will go a long way to winning the occupation. Two of the solutions are very tough pills to swallow but are important in the long run, the third just involves some politicians swallowing their ego (and therefore unlikely).

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Sounds like a reasonable

Sounds like a reasonable prescription to me.