Iraq reality and lunacy, side by side


There's an interesting juxtaposition just now on C-SPAN 1 and C-SPAN 2. On C-SPAN 2, there's Ralph Nader, looking and sounding like he just crawled out of bed (did he have a stroke recently?). He's peddling the Michael Moore / Democrat Party / International ANSWER / Islamofascist / moonbat line about the war in Iraq -- Bush is engaged in "Messianic Militarism", and the war was all about contracts and cheap oil for his evil corporate buddies.

Meanwhile, C-SPAN 1 has Rand Rahim, the representative of Iraq's interim government to the United States, speaking and taking questions at the American Enterprise Institute today. In response to a pointed and hostile question, Ms. Rahim said that the war to depose Saddam Hussein was a humanitarian necessity for Iraq and a necessity for the stability of the region and the world. Asked about the somewhat clandestine handover -- if that undermined the idea that a real transfer of sovereignty had occurred -- she pointed to the reality of the security situation and expressed pride that the US and the interim government had stolen a march on the terrorists. Asked if the war in Iraq had made Americans less safe, she said that Iraq has become terrorism's last stand, which is unfortunate for Iraq, but she believes that, in Iraq, terrorism will be defeated. She said that the terrorists are not a resistance against the coalition, they are against Iraq and Iraqis, a fact demonstrated by their actions against contractors who are not from coalition countries, and their threats against the transfer of sovereignty. She said that the interim government needs to communicate this fact effectively to the Iraqi people.

Ambassador Rahim's only criticism of the coalition's now-ended oversight is the focus on reconstruction efforts that were capital- and technology-intensive, and thus out of reach for Iraqi firms and workers. Wages have improved dramatically, but only for those who are employed. In order to make more Iraqis stakeholders in a rebuilt Iraq, there should be a focus on labor-intensive reconstruction efforts that can make use of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi businesses and workers. That made me think of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which provided a structured environment for young men who would otherwise have been at loose ends, helped them earn money (most of which was sent directly home to their families), and resulted in the construction of needed infrastructure as well as public amenities. The need is infrastructure and the available resource is unskilled labor. While some infrastructure needed to be rebuilt quickly, and thus needed the technology and capital that Western firms could bring to bear, much of the infrastructure could be rebuilt at a slower pace, using old fashioned techniques that take advantage of a large labor pool.

Seeing rumpled Ralph Nader reminded me of an "internal memo" in National Lampoon's fake letters column sometime in the late '70s. It said something like this: "The last Robert Hall store has died in captivity. For now, have Ralph Nader, et al., buy their suits at K-Mart." Robert Hall was a discount clothing store -- Tulsa had one on the southwest corner of the Traffic Circle at Admiral and Mingo. It apparently was also a shorthand way to say that someone wore cheap clothes. Nice to see that Ralph still disdains haute couture.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 29, 2004 11:18 PM.

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