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October 11, 2002

The New Fertile Crescent So

The New Fertile Crescent

So it appears that the structure of post-war Iraq is going to be one modeled on the post WW II occupation of Japan and Germany. Time to pull out the books* on MacArthur and .......Lucius Dubignon Clay? Learn something new everyday, I suppose.

*Here's one ;
The U.S. Occupation of Germany: Educational Reform, 1945–1949

In Germany, the U.S. military government faced serious shortages of qualified teachers, textbooks, and school buildings. It also encountered educational traditions rooted in a class-based social structure and firm church control. For the United States, educational reform was vital to denazification, to the development of a democratic political culture, and to Germany’s reintegration as a peaceful partner into Europe’s intellectual and cultural life.

Fortunately Iraq already has a tradition of secular education, so we shouldn't have to do much other than infrastructure repair and funding for the educational system. Other than that, the most important thing we can promote is trade. There's a democratic Turkey to the north, newly snubbed by the E.U., and a friendly monarchy to the south in Jordan. We don't have to set up a free trade zone in order for the Iraqis to benefit. As the Kurds in Northern Iraq have shown, just removing Saddam is a great impetus for trade, but we're interested in more than just removing Saddam. Unless America suffers through another 9/11, we're probably not going to launch another major military effort any time soon. We'll have shot our wad politically and diplomatically for a good while.

It's time for containment. We're good at that, it doesn't require active continuous military effort, and we've got 50 years of experience at it. It's a different kind of containment, in that militarily we're not facing off with an equal or near-equal opponent, but the principle is the same. Isolate the source by building up the countries around it. In 1960 that was the U.S.S.R. Today it's Saudi Arabia, with maybe Egypt, Syria and Iran thrown in for good measure. I would have added Afghanistan and Pakistan to the list if I were making it a year ago. There are certainly elements within each country that oppose us, but I sincerely doubt we'll stand idly by while they regain power. We're not going to let the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal take control of the Pakistani nuclear bombs, no matter how many seats they are elected to, and a modicum of support from us for the Afghani people will keep the Taliban from regaining power.

Iran will probably come off the list next, as it already has a population in ferment, with the fundie Muslim leadership slowly losing their grip on the country. A U.S. force basically sitting on their border ought to go a long way towards restricting the movements of the Iranian military, so their use in population control will be increasingly limited. If the population of Iran can break the hold of the mullahs, we will be sitting in the middle of a swath of territory stretching from Turkey to India where we have more influence than we have had in decades.

All prosperity needs to flourish in the Near East is a lack of oppression, a market supported by us rather than strangled, as it has been for the past few centuries, by autocratic government. We deliver that, and improve the infrastructure in the area, and we won't need to spend trillions to bring these countries into the modern age. They'll be able to do it themsleves. A single four lane highway from Istanbul to New Dehli would be the biggest boom to the economies of the region since the Spice Trade vanished. Ten or twenty years of free trade in that area and the Fertile Crescent would bloom again. This time, instead of wheat, it will grow a viable alternative to the hatred spread by the Wahabists and their ilk.

Containtment in the coming cold war with the Islamists will not come because of our might at arms in the front line of nations we set against it, but it can come by making the citizens of those nations prosperous and free.

Update: Tonecluster also posits a economic rebirth along the fertile crescent, anchored by Israel, India, Iran and Turkey.

Posted by Bigwig at October 11, 2002 01:46 PM | TrackBack
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