Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chris Lynch Solves the Iraqi Dilemma In Three Easy Steps

The problems in Iraq are many and I have been one who scoffed at people who would treat the War on Terror as a police matter. However, I have come around to the belief that many of the problems in Iraq could be solved or at least lessened by adopting some innovative solutions including some law and order initiatives. My recommendations? Glad you asked.

1. First I would send more US troops over. Not an overwhelming number but enough to increase patrols and really get the training of Iraqi troops accomplished. As pointed out in the fine book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner - one of the keys to lowering crime is more police on the street. Many of the issues plaguing Iraq are crime-like most resembling the turf war among rival gangs. A proven way of reducing crime may reduce the murders, kidnappings and other lesser crimes being committed is to add more cops on the beat.

2. Create a National Oil Fund which would take half (or any percentage you wish to assign) of the oil profits from the sale of Iraqi oil and distribute it to the Iraqi citizens. I first heard this idea advocated by Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit. I would add a wrinkle to the idea though. I would have the money designated by city or town and if any insurgent activity happened in that city or town then monies would be taken out of that city or town's fund to pay for the damage (death benefits, hospital costs, rebuilding cost, etc.).

3. Give members of the Iraqi army or police forces double the normal amount from the oil fund (in addition to the normal salary) and make this amount not subject to the penalties mentioned above. At the same time however, make conduct guidelines for keeping those jobs rather strict so that being a member of the army of the police becomes a well-paid job that people would not risk by doing extra-legal activities.

I think if you did the above three items then Iraqis would have much less tolerance for any insurgents in their cities and towns because they would literally be taking money out of the citizens' pockets. People who live in towns with no insurgent related violence would enjoy a literal peace dividend.

If the fund ended up giving an estimated extra $1,000 to "peace-loving" Iraqis then can you imagine the impact that would have in a country where according to the CIA World factbook the per-capita GNP is just $1,800?

Can you imagine the reduction of violence possible when Iraqis would have the incentive to almost double their income by not just being law-abiding but also making sure that their neighbors do the same?

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