Arnold Kling  

Indicator of Failure in Iraq

Prediction Markets?... Further Kiwiana...

Strategy Page writes

The corruption is so bad that American officials find their Iraqi counterparts more concerned with stealing than governing. The theft is so pervasive that an honest official (who doesn't steal) is at a political disadvantage. During Saddam's years, much of the private economy was taken over by the government, and then dispensed in return for loyalty (or at least the appearance of such, Saddam always suffered at least one assassination attempt a year.) Thus Saddam made an old Middle Eastern custom even worse. With the country currently so dependent on oil revenue and foreign aid, it is the government officials who get control of that money, who wield the most power.

Over six months ago, I wrote

If I were to pick one indicator to track in order to predict success or failure in Iraq, it would be the following:

The percentage of Iraqi government officials who abide by the law in their work

Apparently, that indicator is pointing in the wrong direction.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (6 to date)
N. writes:

So it would appear. My question to the economically minded: how to reduce the amount of graft to "acceptable" levels. Can it be made more difficult for officials to take bribes, somehow? Surely this is not the first horrendously corrupt government to need turnaround. What methods have worked elsewhere?

Robert writes:

If the public knows the government is corrupt, all the way to the top, and it has a problem with this, and there is a plausible opposition that is perceived as being honest, then the ballot box has been known to work.

aaron writes:

Basically it needs more public exposure and condemnation.

RogerM writes:

It also needs privatization. The more control of the economy that you can wrench from the hands of the government, the less ROI corruption produces. Someone has written about the curse of oil, which Iraq has along with many other poor countries. Until Iraqis decide to privatize the oil sector, no hope exists for decent society.

Mark Bahner writes:

"My question to the economically minded: how to reduce the amount of graft to "acceptable" levels."

Dramatically reduce the power of government. Do that by requiring all oil revenues above, for example, extraction cost plus 20%, be distributed equally to every Iraqi adult.

See "What should be in the Iraq Constitution (but probably won't be)"

What should be in the Iraq Constitution

Richard Park writes:

The real purpose why your sons are dying in iraq.

6 months ago george bush ordered the cia to apply a covert operation to steal iraq oil. The cia has converted several super tankers to appear as third world ships, they are flying third world flags and entering the port of khor az zubayr in southern iraq. They fill with oil but
they do not go back to the third world however
They go to the port of galveston in texas where the oil is pumped into storage tanks and underground pipeline terminals. This is why cia director porter goss resigned because he would not be part of this grand piracy. The oil will be sold on the american market as domestic crude at an exhorbitant prices. Your sons are in iraq dying to protect this procedure and in essence are being used and security forces to protect this operation and divert attention from it by supposingly fighting the war on terrorism in iraq. And what about the war on terror. The israeli secret service ( the mossad) found the hide out of bin laden more than two years ago and informed the cia director of its whereabouts but to this date he has not been killed or captured, why, the answer to this question is obvious. Meanwhile your sons are dying in iraq supposidly fighting the war on terror and they will continue to die as long as iraq has oil.

Richard Park District Manager of British Petroleum Orlando Florida

Comments email richard at or

[Mr. Park: Please do not post comments in all caps. It is disturbing to EconLog readers. We've reset your post to lower case. We also have been unable to verify that you are the district manager of British Petroleum from Orlando, FL. Please email us within 24 hours at from your BP email address, else your comment will be removed. We respect privacy, but we will not tolerate false representation.--Econlib Ed.]

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