It’s all very well fixing the world in theory. It would be nice, however, if someone would fix it in practice. Obviously the place to start is the most screwed-up place we can find.
Therefore, please allow me to present Unqualified Reservations’ one-page plan for Iraq.
The goal of this plan is to convert Iraq into the most prosperous and stable region in the world. The primary obstacle is the weather, which will still suck. Anyone with thoughts on Mesopotamian climate mitigation should forward them immediately to my attention.
First, we need to deal with Iraqi Kurdistan. The US will recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government within its present de facto borders, and formally commit itself to nonintervention in any dispute between Kurdistan and Turkey.
This leaves fifteen Ottoman-era provinces, or vilayets. The US will abolish the so-called nation of “Iraq,” default on its debts, and privatize the vilayets with their present borders, converting them to independent emirates governed by publicly-traded sovereign security companies.
These SSCs will be the sovereign governments of the new emirates of Mesopotamia. They will be responsible for all internal security within their territories. The US will guarantee their external security (security against foreign invasion) for a period of ten years. In return they will agree not to convert themselves into Al Qaeda theme parks.
The SSCs will be publicly-traded corporations listed in Dubai. Their shares will be divided into two classes of equal size, A and B. All profits the SSCs produce will be returned to all shareholders equally, but B shares have voting rights whereas A shares do not. In 25 years, all A shares convert to B shares.
B shares will be sold in a Dutch auction in Dubai, providing the initial capital for the SSCs.
A shares will be allocated uniformly among all persons now living who were born in Iraq including Kurdistan, and who give, or whose guardian gives, their word of honor to support the new system of government. All Iraqis will be allocated shares of all emirates, without regard to their current residence, whether in Iraq or elsewhere. A shares are not citizenships. They are fully transferable, they confer no rights except for the dividends they receive, and no more will be issued.
The SSCs, since the emirates will be their only assets, can be expected to govern them stably and effectively, much as the UAE (Dubai and its neighbors) are governed. The difference is that public ownership, rather than family ownership, is a much stabler and more efficient system for governing a large corporation. As a result we can expect the Iraqi emirates to be even more effectively governed than the UAE, which is already quite peaceful and prosperous.
The first task of the SSCs will be suppressing all violence and other organized political activity in the emirates. They will abolish all gangs, parties, mafias, militias, liberation fronts, revolutionary brigades, and other murderous detritus of the democratic period. Under the SSCs, the business of Iraq will be business, just as in Dubai.
Or we could just get the hell out and let the place turn into “Mad Max: The Documentary.” Or we could keep using it as a sort of live-fire training range to create a battle-hardened army (perhaps the principal unrecognized advantage of occupying Iraq). I’m sure that, by some definition of ethics, these are the only ethical options.