From my recent criticism of the media in their obsession of keeping score with body counts, I would now also like to draw attention in the myopic viewpoints of political players and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. and Baghdad's "Green Zone".
As the issue of Iraq will continue to descend in importance in the media in the next year, the debates between politicians and disgruntled bureaucrats over the merits of throwing out Saddam Hussein will continue for a long time to come. Playing politics is mostly about gaining an edge in influence and power over one's opponents, not ensuring outcomes on behalf of the people one is politicking for. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute writes about the actual daily reality of Iraqis and contrasts it with the insular backbiting atmosphere of Washington. While the political debate in the U.S. gets mired on the extent of Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction, or whether a CIA worker's cover was wrongly blown, Iraqis muddling through day by day are actually finding themselves enjoying the fruits of an expanding economy and its new engagement with the world outside its borders. Average wealth and purchasing power have skyrocketed, and businesses are popping up around the country at a rapid clip. Connectivity is flourishing in Iraq, far ahead of its neighbors like Egypt, with widespread internet use and millions of cell-phone subscribers. Freedom of expression is guaranteed in Iraq while journalists in what most would consider 'moderate' Islamic countries are behind bars.
Although I consider myself a champion of national sovereignty and national self interest, I don't think it is necessary to evaluate foreign policy with sole attention paid to our own (or "our boys" as they are often called). When we intervene in another country, success should not be measured by how are country alone wins and benefits. It should also take into consideration the plight of those in whose lives we have become involved in. After all, our 2000 soldiers who died did not sacrifice their lives for the sake of simply winning for their side but also so that the fruits of freedom will be forever sowed to future generations of Iraqis, and in time, to rest of the Middle East. Ensuring safety is one aspect of the U.S. mission, but it is just as crucial that prosperity takes root as well. Prosperity can transform the daily life of people far more visibly and quickly than the slow pace of moderate political reform.
So get rich...it's the American and hopefully the Iraqi way.