On Whether To Rebuild Iraq and Whether to Pay for It

I am frankly puzzled about what justification there might be for “rebuilding” Iraq and why outsiders, the United States in particular, should pay for it. Is there some powerful theoretical argument or empirical evidence I am not aware of that suggests that Iraq is likely to become a significantly more friendly and civilized place if its electrical grid, highways, and water and sewage systems are substantially upgraded? And if so, is there some special virtue to outsiders paying for it? If there are strong arguments for either proposition I have not heard them. It would seem to me that helping the Iraqis establish the rule of law, a stable currency, secure property rights, will be far more valuable, considerably cheaper, and sad to say difficult enough. My sense is that a large infusion of cash from the outside will have a pernicious effect. It will encourage the (re)development of a rent-extraction industry.


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