Here is Number Whatever in our continuing series of letters intended to inform, enlighten, and wake up the Wall Street Journal to a sense of responsibility to the common good. As usual, please feel free to use any or all of this letter in writing your own letters.
Messrs. Gresser and Dunkelman are absolutely correct in their belief that free trade can provide the most effective means of combating terrorism ("Free Trade Can fight Terror," WSJ, 08/15/08, A15). Unfortunately, what they propose bears little resemblance to trade in which everyone is free to engage. They promote a system that inhibits or prevents outright participation in the global marketplace by the vast majority of the population in the Middle East, to say nothing of the United States and other countries. The current system is structured to benefit those who already have wealth, giving rise to the claim that the west is dealing unjustly with Islam, and thereby pouring gasoline on the fire.
Institute free trade, yes, but also reform the system so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in it equitably and freely, whether as provider of labor, of ownership of capital, or (preferably) both. A good place to start is with the oil in Iraq. Denationalize the oil fields of that country as a catalyst for building a new economy, as described in our paper, "A New Model of Nation-Building," found on our web site, www.cesj.org.
Transfer the ownership and control of all oil reserves and natural resources within the borders of Iraq from the Iraqi National Oil Company, to a newly formed, professionally managed, limited liability joint stock corporation. All Iraqis would automatically receive free, as a right of citizenship from birth to death, a single non-transferable share in the new corporation. All citizens would be guaranteed first-class shareholder rights to the profits and voting control over the board of directors and management of the new company. All profits except for operating reserves would be paid out fully and periodically as dividends to each shareholder.
Is it enough? No, but it is a start, and a necessary first step to undermining support for terrorism. As Aristotle remarked centuries ago, a man pays most attention to that which is his own. Terrorism will evaporate as soon as the envy and the sense of injustice that breeds it no longer have anything on which to feed.