George Bush is being stubborn. He should change the strategy, indeed he should call again upon the bold neoconservative imagination that helped envision our invasion in the first place, and take a page from the book of our main Middle East ally, Israel, when it found itself in possession of a hunk of Arab lands, 40 years ago: he should encourage settlements.
settlers would be displacing no one. Anyone who has seen a documentary about Iraq knows that there are vast stretches of the country that are barren and unsettled or, even worse, abandoned by people who have thrown up their hands and left the country. Settlers would be making the desert bloom. They would be bringing advanced American know-how and practices to an Arizona-like environment, and doing for it what snowbirds have done to Scottsdale and Canyon Ranch. Irrigation, fertilizer: American ideas.
Some will say this is colonial, but look, we liberated the country. Yes the British and Spanish helped, but not really. More important, settlements would completely alter the strategic and tactical landscape. We would, at last, have Americans with a stakehold in pacifying Iraq; they would own real estate. It would give fresh purpose to the military presence in Iraq and fresh legs to the vision of implanting democracy. Americans have a long tradition of democracy; the Iraqis, brutalized by Saddam, have zero. We would be setting an example.
Anyone who watches the news knows that it is chaotic right now in Iraq, no doubt. The settlers would be a calming force from the jump. They would have superior arms to the Iraqi locals and would police their own borders and keep the peace. They would have the Second Amendment, which the Iraqis don’t have yet. They would demonstrate a principle that has held true in Israel: give an Arab a gun and you have trouble, give an Israeli a gun and you will have peace.
The IEDs are a giant problem. But we should take a page from the book of our main Mideast ally, Israel, and build a separate set of roadways for the settlers, so that they could get to and from their jobs in the Green zone. Initially that is where all the jobs would be; that is the infrastructure and as Willie Sutton said, that’s where the money is. But I imagine an Iraqi silicon valley spreading slowly and inevitably. Sand=silicon. What is Arabic for no-brainer?
You say that it is getting impossible to find soldiers to go to Iraq, why would an ordinary civilian go? Easy. The soldiers dont have a stakehold. They have nothing to show for their two years service except a Purple Heart, and maybe a prosthetic foot or leg. When people own land, different story. Money changes everything. You would give them cheap prices. An acre near where I live goes for as much as $100,000, more. The middle class is getting it in the teeth. In Iraq it would be a tiny fraction of the price. Location, location, location: settlements by the fancy Mansour district would go for more, settlements nearer to the Sunni Triangle cities of Tikrit and I’m blanking on the other name would be way less.
Maybe some of it would be “free” land. Again, ask the Israelis how they did it.
Who would go? Are they insane, are they coerced? Read my headline again: Encourage. That’s the American way, no one is ordered to do anything. It’s a free country. Yes it would take an enterprising type, that is American. Some Guatemalans walked 1000 miles to get into Texas and drank their own urine on the way, now they are good citizens. It wouldn’t have to be that bad. We would incentivize. Tax breaks, Bush is good at that.
Of course security concerns are not going to go away for a long time. I have an idea! Build a 36-foot concrete wall around the settlements. This would prevent attacks on the settlers.