It’s easy to dismiss Iraq as yet another third world basket case. Sure, Iraq has a lot of oil. For the longest time, it is one of the world’s greatest petrodollar earners. This is indisputable. In fact, as recently as three decades ago, the Iraqi currency was one of the most valuable currencies in the world. It traded for a lot of dollars. That’s how well-regarded and how stable Iraq was.
Well, fast forward to today and it seemed that everything is basically upside down. Iraq has all sorts of negative reputation as far as peace and order are concerned. You only needed to turn on the TV news regardless of where you are located in the world to see the issues facing Iraq front and center. It is not some sort of secret.
Well, a lot of this has to do, really, with economic policy, which in turn impacts political decisions. These two are actually identical twins. They are joined at the hip. One influences the other, and the other pushes the other factor, and on and on it goes.
This interplay between policies involving the economy and political choices and decisions can create either an upward spiral where peace, hope and progress are produced, or it can easily go the other direction.
In the recent history of Iraq, unfortunately, it has gone in the other direction. But this does not mean that any kind of upward direction or positive change is wishful thinking. In fact, the recent switch to a federal form of government may provide the structural impetus for economic policies in Iraq to create an upward spiral of progress and development.
How would this work? Well, for example, in the north where there is a lot of oil produced or in the south where there are a lot of processing plants, the localized or regionalized control of the economy, which mirrors the religions complexion of that respective region, can lead to peace. At least people in a certain area with the same faith would feel that they have a stake or a voice in their particular region of Iraq.
This can go a long way in fostering a peaceful economic climate, which in turn can encourage local economic activity that would entrench people with a vested interest in keeping the local order and the local way of governance going.
Do you see how this works? So when these people are empowered, this creates stability. You’re not left with a situation where people feel that they have nothing to lose.
That’s precisely what happened during a unitary government that shifted from the Sunni minority to the Shia majority, and this produced all sorts of headaches. The US invasion, regardless of whatever positive aspects it may have had at the time, actually created more problems than it solved. Well, thanks to the switch to federalism, the economic policy might actually turn out to have quite a substantial impact on peace and order issues. Please join us as we seek to work together to make peace permanent in this part of the world.