President Obama’s revised strategy for Iraq, after he reads Collier’s book “The Bottom Billion”

President Barack Obama’s article unveiling his new Iraq strategy – October, 2010

“My fellow Americans. I’m writing this article to announce my administration’s new strategy on Iraq, and share my thoughts and reasonings behind this strategy.

As we all know, operation Iraqi freedom has not gone according to plan. And it is my administration’s duty to make sure that we don’t compound our mistakes….and rectify the situation. While we can debate about the invasion of Iraq, i must point out that history has proven that not all invasions are bad (example – expulsion of Iraqi invasion of Kuwait).

Having said that, Iraq has been under a brutal dictatorial regime for decades. As a result, the country has fallen under (as Paul Collier states in his book “The Bottom Billion”) the “4 traps”. Hence, i would like to outline my administration’s strategy, that we think will help pull the Iraqi people out of these traps:

1) Studies show that a post-conflict government tends to spend a lot (40% of foreign aid) on military instead of development. It’s a natural reaction and is a part of the problem, not solution. Further conflicts are substantially more likely to take place as a result. Militaries tend to run an extortion racket and the chance of a military led Coup are high in such cases. To avoid this, external military forces are needed for an extended period of time….and i so, i plan to keep our American troops in Iraq beyond 2011.

2) It is important to surround Iraq with stable neighbors, in order to have a long-term positive spill over effect. Hence, my administration will work tirelessly to improve our diplomatic relations, as well as our the economic policies with Turkey, Syria, Kuwait,  Saudi Arabia and Iran (Iraq’s neighboring countries). We also plan to develop the Iraqi port region of Basra and the infrastructure around it, for having a better coastal access to Iraq.

3) Iraq is an oil rich country and traditionally its economy has been dependent on this one natural resource. This, along with a authoritarian regime, has been a disaster for the Iraqi people. Hence, we plan to assist in diversifying the Iraqi economy, by encouraging entrepreneurship, investing in infrastructure and removing trade barriers.

4) Military assistance and aid alone is not enough to complete our mission in Iraq. We need to surround it with tools like good governance, diplomacy, trade investment policies and technology collaboration. We need to root our corruption – the greatest barrier to prosperity and human rights. We must educate the women and children of Iraq. Giving opportunities to mothers and daughters automatically improves economies and governance.

The change in Iraq ultimately has to come from within. But we have to create the right conditions for sustainable and long-term growth, where assistance will no longer be needed.

Some might argue as to “why give aid and help the bottom billion…and countries like Iraq?” For me, this is a no-brainer. This rebuilding strategy is not only morally the right thing to do, but it also has other benefits like disease control, creation of young entrepreneurs, rooting out extremism and it serves as a big step in bringing stability to the Middle-East region.

A democratic and stable Iraq, can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond its borders. And my administration, with the support of the American people, will try our best to make that a reality.

May god bless you all, and may god bless the United States of America!”

Barack Obama.
President of the United States of America.

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About pritamkabe

Originally from Bombay, India. Relocated to the United States in 1997 for attending graduate school at The University of Texas. Completed my Masters in Electrical Engineering in 1999 and then worked in the Hi-Tech industry for the next 11 years in Austin, Texas. I have a passion for travelling, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures...and i've been very fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to travel quite a bit. Sports and food are my other big passions in life. Some life-changing experiences in my life a years ago changed my perspective of life, after which, just have an engineering job was not meaningful to me anymore. Hence i quit my engineering career, and I'm now motivated to give back to society and make a positive impact in some way. To get started on that journey, i went back in graduate school, and recently graduated as a "Mid-Career Fellow in Foreign Service", from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, at Georgetown University, Washington DC. Currently in New Delhi, India, on a research fellowship, to learn about the educational issues in India, and brainstorm my ideas about technological interventions for resolving those issues.
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