2006 August 03 Thursday
Steve Sailer: Why Not Bribe The Lebanese?

Steve Sailer thinks surely the Lebanese could be bought off if we could figure out who to bribe.

But the nutty thing is that the annual Iranian subsidy of Hezbollah, which we are constantly told is a world-historical crisis, turns out to be about $100 million.

For 28 years, the U.S. has paid Egypt $2 billion annually not to blunder into another war with Israel. This has been a good deal for all concerned, but it's pretty expensive because it's public. I would imagine you could rent most of the important people in Egypt for a lot less, if you did it surreptitiously with deposits in the right Swiss bank accounts.

Lebanon is a tiny country compared to Egypt with less than 4 million people, which is why Iran's $100 million seems so vast to them.

Surely, the friends of Israel could outbid Iran for influence in Lebanon? There's always the problem of making sure the VIPs you buy stay bought, but the people who have the money to spend on this problem are often geniuses at structuring deals, so that doesn't seem insurmountable.

The bribery deals would need to have incentive plans for performance.

What I wonder: What would it cost to buy south Lebanon and turn it into a park? Have no land there for houses. Hezbollah would try to kilr sellers to make people. Some Hezbollah followers would refuse to sell. So this might not work.

Consider how many things could merit bribery payments: Know when and where some trucks or an aircraft will deliver missiles from Iran? A group could even be bribed to capture trucks delivering missiles. Know where Nasrallah is at some moment? Know the locations of arms stashes? Know how to get some Shiite faction shooting at another Shiite faction? Bribes are best offered for confirmable information. A bribe for, say, "who in this village is a trained Hezbollah fighter" doesn't work because the bribee could finger those who hate Hezbollah rather than the members in good standing.

I've made a similar argument on Iraq. The place is full of factions and sub-factions. Would some of the factions accept bribes in exchange for not fighting or even in exchange for betraying information about other factions and fighting those factions that create the biggest problems?

Bribery is way cheaper than fighting a war:

The cost of the war in U.S. fatalities has declined this year, but the cost in treasure continues to rise, from $48 billion in 2003 to $59 billion in 2004 to $81 billion in 2005 to an anticipated $94 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found.

Those costs do not include the long term care of tens of thousands of permanently injured soldiers and their lost earnings. These costs also do not include the cost of replacing much of the equipment which is wearing out more quickly. Nor do these costs include the interest in the debt for the money borrowed to finance the war. Nor do the costs include income not earned by Reservists and National Guard called up and taken from their civilian jobs.

To be worth doing bribery wouldn't have to totally solve the problems Israel faces with Lebanon or the US faces with Iraq. The United States could just withdraw from Iraq. But since the Bush Administration is intent upon staying we ought to use more unconventional means to deal with the enemies we face.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 August 03 09:41 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis

Stephen said at August 5, 2006 12:42 AM:

I think the Duchy of Grand Fendwick tried this already...

Stephen said at August 5, 2006 12:45 AM:

A thought experiment as to why this won't necessarily work...

Hands up those readers who could be bribed by Hezbollah to betray their country? While you're at it, name the amount Hezbollah would have to pay you to join a group to capture armament shipments leaving the US to Israel. How much to be a suicide bomber?

Opening bid Randall?

Stephen said at August 5, 2006 2:33 AM:

More seriously, the law of supply and demand will kick in. For instance, the people who are being paid to find item X will act to ensure that there's a continuing supply of item X.

If this idea were actually introduced, before long people in Lebanon will actually import rockets (for say, $10,000 each), knowing that they can then sell them on to the US who is willing to pay $20,000 ea. The (alleged) factory in Iran or Syria gets a volume efficiency bonus, and it can now make the rockets for $5,000 and invest the rest in R&D!!!

Nice profit there for everyone.

oh, except for the US taxpayer.

Randall Parker said at August 5, 2006 7:39 AM:

We bribed Francisco Franco to keep him out of WWII.

Lebanese bribable to betray their country? You mean everyone in the carefully balanced confederation of factions which is Lebanon which fought a 15 year civil war from 1975 to 1990 all feels intense loyalty to just one of the factions? Oh, and this faction is the one faction the others are united about keeping down.

Rockets: Why would someone have to join Hezbollah to know about them? They'd just have to watch trucks and airports and might work at the right place to learn the right thing. Maybe they'd work for the Lebanese telephone company and be able to do wiretaps easily.

Yes, we'd need to pay less than the manufacturing and transport cost of the rockets and of whatever other Hezbollah assets got blown up when the rockets got blown up. Or we'd need to pay in a way that ensures the payee isn't going to funnel the money back to Hezbollah. So then try to recruit Christians and Druze who live in places that give them views into places where rockets come through. Then do not blow up the rockets in those places. Blow them up well past those places.

Another way to avoid bribery problems: Rewards can come in the form of a visa to go live in some place other than Lebanon. Put in a year or two spying and that buys you a ticket out of Lebanon.

The (alleged) factory in Iran or Syria? You mean the rocket factory might be in Lebanon? That'd be great. It could get blown up with less diplomatic consequences.

gcochran said at August 5, 2006 5:43 PM:

Supposdedly, previous experiments in parliamentary government in the Middle East left a bad taste because of this very thing: they were often bribed by foreign powers.

Good thing that can't happen here.

purpleslog said at August 6, 2006 8:36 PM:

Better thought experiment...

Hands up Americans: how many could be bribed into betraying the KKK, the Mafia, the Aryan Nation, etc?

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