Here's a plan that would save us money and lives and might even gain us friends in Iraq. Only Halliburton might lose in this plan.
First, it is worth noting that before the invasion, Iraq's total GDP was $22 billion. We are now spending $100 billion a year on the occupation. The plan follows almost automatically from the juxtaposition of these two facts.
Pull out the troops. In its place, put in a plan to pay each Iraqi a sum that would total up to about $55 billion - about $1,000 per Iraqi and more than twice as much as they had before the invasion. This plan suggests a variety of questions, but it would be an opportunity for the conservatives who so strongly supported the invasion to show their faith in markets.
How to rebuild Iraq? Let every family have money to pay for contractors to repair their portion of the country. This might well prime the pump, stimulating construction projects and new businesses. We could have a plan to pay the sum for, say, two years, and after that draw down the sum by about 20% a year until it reaches a stable point.
What would be the result? We'd save money and lives. Iraqis would have resources to help themselves. And the 50% plus unemployment might even drop as the economy was infused with money that could be used to buy goods and services.
What is the old bumper sticker? Tourists go home (and leave your daughters). This could be similar. Troops go home (and leave your budget). It's time that the conservatives remembered that they don't trust government programs and do trust markets. Let their policy reflect this.