The Solution To Iraq

December 07, 2006 By: erik Category: Musings, Politics, USA 2,935 views

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Yes, you read correctly. I will now present a solution to The Iraq Problem that will result in a stable democracy. Not only is it elegantly simplistic, but it won’t cost one cent of US taxpayer money. In fact, it will be paid for entirely by American corporations. Sound too good to be true? Judge for yourself.

The Problem

Iraq’s problem at the moment is that most children are raised, from a very young age, to be very strictly religious and to passionately hate the other ethnic groups. A democracy is impossible under such circumstances. Their belief systems need to be moderated. The solution, in only two letters, is T.V.

The Plan

  1. Withdraw all occupying troops
  2. Set up high powered television antennas all around the borders
  3. Flood the Iraqi airwaves with American television (overdubbed into Arabic, of course)
  4. Wait 10 to 20 years
  5. Watch theocracy overthrown and democracy established

Why It Will Work

American television is hugely addictive. It appeals to universal human appetites for drama, adventure and humor. I have now lived in three different European countries for a total of 5.5 years. In all three, at least half of the entertainment programming on television and 80% of the movies have been from America. Even in Spain, where it’s all overdubbed, we get all the currently popular US shows, like Desperate Housewives, 24, CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, House, and Lost. It’s not that the Spanish or the Danes can’t make great shows too, because they do. It’s that the quality, and universal appeal, of shows coming out of America, probably due to higher advertising budgets, is just so high! And when I say “quality”, I mean “ability to entertain the masses”.

At first, the authoritarian dictator(s) of Iraq will prohibit the viewing of such blasphemy. People will be executed for watching these unsanctioned television stations. The antennas will have to be protected in some way, because they will be attacked. And they should be rebuilt after they are destroyed.

Slowly, but surely, people will be unable to resist a little peak in the privacy of their own homes. After a year or so, people will start talking quietly in groups about how Trisha kissed Bobby in whatever teen drama is popular at the time. Kids will tell their parents that their friends’ parents let them watch Malcolm In The Middle on Thursdays. Very, very slowly, despite harsh resistance from elders and religious and political authority figures, the Iraqi society will be unable to resist the drug that is American television.

What will they learn? First of all, they will see lots of free, unveiled, women. They will also see people free to talk about their ideas, and even talk negatively about the government, without harsh consequences. They will see the criminal justice system providing fair trials to the accused. They will see people of different races, nationalities, and religions living (relatively) peacefully together. I’m sure there are many other Iraqi social taboos that I don’t even know about that are blatantly broken on your average episode of Friends or Dawson’s Creek.

It will take at least 10 years, probably closer to 20, before the people that are of strong, government-overthrowing, revolutionary age can’t remember a time when rogue American television stations weren’t commonplace. If the government is still enforcing burka laws then, it won’t take long for it to be overthrown.

Do I even need to explain how easy it will be to get Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, et. al. to pay for the construction, defense, and maintenance of the antennas?

Once we’ve pulled out of Iraq and set up the antennas, we can spend our time and energy into preventing America from becoming a totalitarian theocracy itself.

Why It Won’t Really Work

I’m pretty sure that you just can’t make UHF and VHF signals travel far enough from the borders to reach the central areas of Iraq. The only other option would be to use a satellite and then flood the country with dirt cheap dishes and decoders, but those are easier for the government to prevent.

And no, you don’t need to tell a cynic such as myself that the US government doesn’t really have any interest in setting up a stable democracy and “liberating” the Iraqi people.

So, what do you think?

  • Okay I am convinced. But we can’t just jump into this thing willy-nilly. We have to make sure that their society goes through the same slow development that America went through. And that means starting at the very beginning with “I love Lucy” and “Happy Days”. Obviously we will have to speed it up a bit to meet your 20 year deadline.

    And let’s not make the same mistake we did with the Koreans when we tried this with them. Remember when we found out that Chachi means ‘penis’ in Korean after we had been broadcasting “Joanie loves Chachi” for months. Well that peninsular has never been the same since.

  • Paul

    I don’t know much about the Middle East (never been there), and I don’t know much about international relations (avoided those courses), but worthless opinions have little value, and are therefore easier to throw out. Here’s mine.

    By calling what we did in Iraq “going to war”, we have insulted every excusable war we ever fought. If the USA will go to war when its borders have not been jeopardized by those we wish to kill, then the USA is either appointing itself sheriff of the world, or has another agenda. If the first, we are doomed to failure unless our strength is greater than the rest of the world’s combined strength. Unless we equate nuclear warheads to strength, that is not the case. If instead we are killing people who don’t look and talk like us because we have another agenda (guarantee that oil supplies will last until Cheney’s grand-children are retired?), it can only be a matter of time before the rest of the world punishes such selfishness.

    It should be a necessary precursor to war is that the other guy has done something bad, and it was directed towards you. In this case, the sins and crimes committed by Sadam and his family were directed towards Iraqis, Iranis, Syrians, etc. When the USA declared war against Iraq, we had no righteous leg to stand on. We had not been harmed, so our justification for destroying Iraq’s infrastructure was non-existent. Having a few shreds of decency left causes us to appease our conscience by rebuilding that which we tear down. Because we have inflicted tremendous pain and suffering on the Iraqi people (more than Sadam had), they have no motivation to help us look good. No matter how much money we spend there, the Iraqi infrastructure will not be successfully rebuilt until it can be rebuilt by Iraqis spending their own money. This means that the USA, in order to allow Iraq to complete the process of re-becoming a self-sustainable country, must totally stop influencing Iraq through the use of military power. We should leave today. We should have learned in Vietnam that not pulling out because we should never have gone in is just plain wrong.

    There is no doubt that the world is smaller now than 50 years ago, and shrinking every day. TV has done much of this, as have relatively cheap airfare, radio, telephones, and the internet. Given enough time (50 years?), we will all homogenize. If we pull out but don’t set up strong TV towers in Kuwait and elsewhere, what you describe will still happen – it will just take longer. I’ll vote for getting McDonalds and The Gap to fund TV towers near Iraq, but even if they don’t, those TV signals will find their way into Baghdad, and do their job, over time.

    The main thing is, pull out, and let the healing begin.

  • Good point, Hubbers. Hopefully our Arabic translators would catch things like that. We wouldn’t want to find out that “Raymond” was slang for female genitalia or something.

    By the way, I found a link to your claim about Korean chachis.

    Paul: Yes, I agree. I almost mentioned something about how “this will happen over time anyway”. It’s true…as is all that other stuff you said. Staying there is only fueling more hatred, which is moving us all in the wrong direction.

    I just thought we could speed it up some.

  • Uncle Steve

    Erik: best post ever.

    Paul: Yes, I do agree with you, except you don’t need a passport or any other darn thing to state an opinion; everyone deserves one and has the right, if not duty, to express it.

  • Uncle Steve

    How expensive can it be to parachute in a few more TVs?

    This year one kid here is getting a ‘Dora’ TV/DVD, and another (1.5 years old) is getting the same but in a spongebob outer case….

    TV/DVD players are cheap; bomb’m with that and a hundred prerecorded DVDs and you don’t worry about the reception problem…

  • Steve: Thanks! Too bad you can’t give it 6 stars. 🙂

    When Paul said, “worthless opinions have little value,” which is a meaningless tautology in itself, I think he meant “uninformed opinions have little value”.

  • robertk

    The USA’s problem at the moment is that most children are raised, from a very young age, to be very strictly religious and to passionately hate the other ethnic groups. A democracy is impossible under such circumstances. Their belief systems need to be moderated. The solution: no more T.V.

    Seriously though. The way most countries have been messed up in the past (Colonies in Africa, Asia, Middle-East) has been through other countries (GB, USA, Russia etc.) going in to ‘fix’ things. No country sees itself as evil or corrupt. So each one has invaded, occupied and colonized with the best intentions. In Africa it was ‘civilizing’ the ‘savages’ for their own good. In Afghanistan and Iraq it is ‘democratizing’ them for their own good. We’ve been meddling in the Middle-East for centuries now and the mess there is our ancestors fault as much as Bush’s. Whatever the intentions meddling in other people’s countries almost always results in a mess, with the cost being borne by the meddlee and not the meddlers.

    Everyone, countries included, is responsible for their own growth and development in life. In psychology this is called individuation. I’m sure there are many synonymous terms in Geo-Political parlance. Often the best thing we can do for someone is to leave them alone to heal and grow, even if they are more screwed up now then they were before we tried to ‘help’ them in the first place. Which is not to say we cannot provide help when it is sought, but telling people how to live and govern their own country is not help as I understand the word.

    “Live and let live” is the global foreign policy I dream of, but I’m not going to invade your country to convince you that it’s the right way to go 😉

  • Rob, I agree with you. My post was based on the (probably faulty) assumption that “we should do something”.

    The only problem I see with your foreign policy is that you have to decide where to set the “what percentage of the population has to ask for help before we go in against the wishes of the rest of them?” threshold. That could be tricky.

    Of course, I doubt that any reasonable person would have set the threshold low enough to justify the Iraq invasion.

  • A

    Great idea but can we just skip over the 1980’s adventure cartoons? I’m pretty sure it won’t matter.