Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Iraq Job Corps

The week before Christmas, the Pentagon asked Congress to approve a supplemental $100 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the estimated $500 billion spent to date. The administration should direct a small percent of that amount to create an Iraqi Citizen Job Corps, along the lines of FDR's civilian conservation corps during the Great Depression. The Job Corps can operate under the supervision of our military and with its protection. The Army Corps of Engineers might be particularly helpful in directing this effort. It will place our military in a constructive relationship with the Iraqis--both literally and figuratively.

Today, Iraq has almost 200 state-owned factories that have been abandoned by the governing authorities since the outbreak of war in 2003. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul A. Brinkley has led a team to 26 of those facilities, traveling far beyond the Green Zone to idled plants from Fallujah to Ramadi. Mr. Brinkley believes that under Department of Defense leadership, at least 10 of these facilities could be re-opened almost immediately, putting more than 10,000 Iraqis to work within weeks. This should be done without delay--and it is only the beginning.

Uh, beg pardon...This ain't the "beginning." It's more like the end. The time for a boost or a helping hand is not after you beat the shit out of someone, but before. Where were you guys three years ago???

Sorry. A feeling of outrage just washed over me. That's not the right question. It's not about you guys but the message. The question should have been Where was this thinking three years ago? The answer, of course, is that three years ago such an idea was being ignored amid the sabre-rattling, fear-mongering and the waving bloody shirt.

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