2008 March 15 Saturday
United States Created Socialist Regime In Iraq
Blogger Audacious Epigone has posted a chart showing government expenditure as a percentage of GDP for 160 countries. Which country has the highest percentage of GDP as government expenditure? Cuba is in second place with 81.4%. Slovakia is in third place at 66.2%. So which country is the ultimate socialist regime? Iraq at 87.3% of GDP as government expenditure. That's an amazing figure.
I wonder if that figure includes the Sunni irregular military forces that the US military bankrolls to buy them off and keep them from attacking American and Shia targets. See my previous post about Nir Rosen's piece "The Myth of the Surge". We are buying off factions in Iraq to reduce the violence. That buying off process is part of what boosts government expenditures to such a high percentage of GDP.
You might think such a high percentage of GDP as government expenditure isn't possible. Surely someone has to produce whatever the Iraqi government buys. But the Iraqi government can use oil revenues to pay employees and the government and its many employees can buy goods shipped in and trucked in from other countries.
Iraq at 87.3% of GDP as government expenditure. That's an amazing figure.
It really is. To the extent that Iraq can be seen as operating as a nation at all, it is being held together (tenuously) by oil, and American blood and treasure. If, as you believe, peak oil is upon us or just around the bend, and McCain also fails to win the Presidency, Iraq is really headed for the bottom. It may become virtually impossible to say Iraq is better off with Saddam gone. And that's from an Iraqi perspective, to say nothing of how much worse off we are for the blunder.
The oil is worth more than Iraqi labor. Now if there had been a half-way sane government there for some period of time, there would be a bigger commercial sector - bigger than Saudi Arabia, probably, since Iraqis don't seem to think that they're above work. But with dictatorship, wars, sanctions, invasions, and an opposed occupation, the commercial sector isn't in good shape. If things were better, there would be more restauranteurs, more repairmen, more cops and teachers: maybe there would be some petrochemical plants. There wouldn't be any high-value added manufacturing, no software, nothing high-tech and competitive: you never see that anywhere in the Arab world. You see more cutting-edge stuff in Lichtenstein than in the entire Arab world, I think.