Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, December 18, 2006

Harry Reid is willing to support a troop surge in Iraq if it's "temporary." Arianna Huffington is livid, and insists that the mandate of Election '06 was for withdrawal. Trouble is, that's not so clear; Democrats let themselves make the "incompetence" argument as well, and part of the "incompetence" argument was that not enough troops were sent in the first place. So if Bush wants to right old wrongs by sending more troops in now, Democrats have weakened their grounds for objecting. (And Reid, representing red-state Nevada, has his race in 2010 to think about.)

Meanwhile, the Iraqi economy is booming:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006...

[T]here's a vibrancy at the grass roots that is invisible in most international coverage of Iraq. Partly it's the trickle-down effect. However it's spent, whether on security or something else, money circulates. Nor are ordinary Iraqis themselves short on cash. After so many years of living under sanctions, with little to consume, many built up considerable nest eggs—which they are now spending. That's boosted economic activity, particularly in retail. Imported goods have grown increasingly affordable, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers. Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. "The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom," says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. "In a sense, they've succeeded."

None of this was happening under Saddam.


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