Public Comment

Commentary: Be Good, for Goodness Sake . . .

By Steve Geller
Tuesday December 12, 2006

Here’s the Santa Claus plan: divide Iraq into two parts, called “naughty” and “nice.” Carve out the “nice” piece from some relatively unpopulated part of Iraq, and draw on the revenue from Iraqi oil to pay for construction of a pleasant, comfortable infrastructure—farms, homes, apartments, schools, business parks, stores and restaurants. Bring in people from Turkey to run the initial temporary administration for Nice Iraq. The Turks live in the region and already know how to run a secular state full of nominal Muslims. Invite immigration into Nice Iraq from Naughty Iraq, starting with a small group of essential workers and professional people. 

Provide initial free housing, health care and schools. Seed some business operations. It should be made clear to arriving residents of Nice Iraq that there will be no violence and no state religion. Anyone fomenting violence or preaching sectarian intolerance will be promptly deported to Naughty Iraq. 

Residents of Nice Iraq will be free to practice all varieties of Islam, including Sunni, Shia and Kurdish versions. 

As Nice Iraq becomes stable and prosperous, its residents will set their own policy for permanent residence by non-Islamic minorities. Once Nice Iraq is operational, it will begin to annex pieces of Naughty Iraq. Residents of Nice Iraq will vote on which areas to annex, and the residents of any area proposed for annexation must approve the action. There will be no mass population transfers—any annexed area will join Nice Iraq with all its residents in place. If some Shia can’t abide living with Sunnis, they are free to migrate elsewhere—to Naughty Iraq, Iran or wherever. 

A similar policy applies to any other intolerant people. Businesses operating in Nice Iraq will establish “foreign” business operations in Naughty Iraq, like Taiwan now operates businesses in mainland China. Such business activity will be at the risk of the companies involved, because Naughty Iraq will still be free to carry on with suicide bombers, roadside explosives and sectarian genocide. Visitors of all kinds will be free to enter Nice Iraq, unless they are found to have engaged in violence or have preached religious intolerance. 

Naughty Iraq will continue to be occupied, either by the US-led coalition or by a UN force. Nice Iraq will have no foreign troops, except for whatever temporary troops the Turks want to bring in, under Turkish command. 

Once Turkey has trained enough locals for police and border control, and a sufficiently long violence-free time period has passed in Nice Iraq, the locals will take over their own security. Residents of Nice Iraq will operate their own government, with initial help from the Turks, who will receive financial compensation for their efforts, from Iraqi oil revenues, via UN administration. Some neutral entity will need to keep control of the oil, so that the revenues can reliably be used for funding the infrastructure of New Iraq. 

Santa suggests one of the oil-rich Gulf States for this job. Saudi Arabia is not a suitable candidate, because so many Saudis practice an intolerant variety of Islam. 

Perhaps Dubai World Ports would take the job? 

Naughty Iraq will eventually disappear, being annexed piecemeal by Nice Iraq or perhaps absorbed by other countries in the region, such as Syria, Iran, Turkey or Saudi Arabia. Life in Nice Iraq might turn out be so good that some regions not originally part of Iraq might wish to be annexed, such as a Kurdish region in Turkey or Syria. Nice Iraq will eventually get a new name—not “Iraq,” which carries so much bad baggage. 

Santa recommends something with old historical roots, like Mesopotamia, Uruk or Babylonia. 


Steve Geller is Berkeley resident.