A Devil's Advocacy moment: Iraq & privatization
Earlier today, I spotted this article
suggesting that Iraqis aren't looking too cheerfully on the removal of certain tasks from the scope of government by occupation administrator Paul Bremer.
Any leftists among you of the type who tend to break stuff may want to skip what I'm about to say...
Regardless of the arguement concerning american business interests taking advantage of the war (action which I personally do not look upon as particularly kosher, for the record), just what is automatically bad about privatization at least in the present? A major sticking point on rebuilding Iraq is rebuilding its infrastructure, seeing as the previous one was so baath-infested. There's a number of reasons why, whether they choose to continue it or not after our exit, privatization is a good idea:
First of all, the previous government was primarily founded on the idea of Big Brother: an all-encompasing bueracracy keeps you fed in return for completely unadulterated loyalty to it. As such, there is a particular taint to any state-run activity, even moreso than is usually the case; here in the US there's a problem with central control because it quite simply is horribly ineffective -- the Iraqis clearly have a much worse reason to fear it. With that painful reminder to contend with, steps have to be taken to insulate against the possibility of that system making a comeback and destroying the infancy of what is hoped to be an arab democracy. A quick & cheap way to do this is to restrict how much power over the economy the government can have. After all, the less funds the future political leaders of Iraq have at their disposal, the less likely they can afford to torment their citizens.
Another issue at hand is the literal cost of rebuilding itself. Granted, we have plenty to aid them with ourselves, but the type of thing they need is an infusion of funds independant of the occupation force. Now, I know what you're saying: "bull, those companies aren't independant, they're sucking off of the action of the Bush Administration"; well, to that I would say that they are, but if done properly our lack of ethics may in fact assist them better than our intentional attempts. Think about it: while we'd all prefer that the multinationals would wait their turn instead of rushing in, isn't it the least bit self-defeating to deliberately close off a potential source of economic growth? Now, as I said before, if after our occupation ended the Iraqis chose to cut back on the capitalism that'd be fine by me, it's their country. Still, there's something to be said for a kickstart...
On top of all this, there's the bigger picture: the pluralism necessary to maintain a free country. Liberty doesn't thrive from conformity, its life blood is interaction between diverse opinions & cultures. Because of this, wherever there was once a tendency towards insularity must be thrown open if this experiment is to truly have a chance...and yes, that includes the marketplace. Perhaps it'd be easier to get used to dealing with the rest of the world if there were an economic incentive to do so.
Of course, economic freedom is not the only content. There still must be an iraqi right to freely express their views, & the growing of a tendency towards populist skepticism of sweeping pronouncements handed down from an elite, be they elected or not. But as far as the bottom line goes, it's not like there's an attractive alternative at the moment. We'll see how it goes from here, too early in the game to declare much of anything.