posted Feb 16, 2007

All the talk of benchmarks for American performance in Iraq makes me wonder if we shouldn't reverse them.

Tell the Iraqis as a nation, for every week that goes by without a (well-defined) terrorist incident, we will pull out 1,000 troops. (We need at least one fine-grained condition that is likely to happen, so we can actually do it, and show that we are serious.) Serious terrorist events may pull troops back or delay our leaving.

For every project for some period of time that you take on, we'll kick in $X million matching dollars, as long as such projects are completed safely and to, say, Washington D.C. city building code, suitably modified.

You want us out? Stop blowing each other up, and stop supporting other people blowing you up.

This is a raw idea. Perhaps this would be useful as a component of a plan going forward. (This ties in nicely to the oil trust idea, too; "You want the oil trust money? Don't let terrorists operate.")

Is there an element of unfairness to this? Some; the actions of a few could cut off benefits for the many. But terrorism still requires some degree of cultural acceptance for it to work; we don't have very many home-grown terrorists in the United States because we don't have people who wouldn't do it if they could, but because such people don't have a critical mass of support. I think the "unfairness" of this idea is simply a direct reflection of the fact that it's completely unfair to live in a society together; it's unfair for me to benefit from the efforts of the society around me, and unfair for me to suffer from the shortcomings of the society around me. However, it is simply a fact that I do, and nothing can change that, least of all calling it "unfair". I'm not sure "fairness" really enters into this discussion.

(Interesting: What is your emotional reaction to the idea of holding the Iraqis to a benchmark? Why is it that only Americans are expected to hold to benchmarks? Is it because the Iraqis are presumed incapable? Is there a soft bigotry of low expectations in play here?)


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