Monday, January 02, 2006

Hope and Prediction for 2006

I hope 2006 is better than 2005. 2005 was a mixed year – a year full of promises and disappointment. The Iraq political process came out better than expected. Within a year, the Iraqis were able have a free and democratic election, formed a government, and wrote a constitution. But on the domestic front, things are not going well. Despite the improving situation in Iraq, domestic support for the war is weakening. The budget is ballooning at an alarming rate. Our government is not spending far more money than we should have. Pork barrel spending is at the highest in history. We have more entitlement programs now than under a Democratic president Bill Clinton.

For 2006, I hope that the situation in Iraq will continue to improve. I am not expecting a miracle, but slow progress. There will be continued violence throughout 2006 and beyond. But we can be certain that the current Iraqi government will not collapse under pressure of terrorism. It is my hope that we can reduce military operation in four governorates: Diyala, Wasit, At-Tammin, and Niwana. The Iraqi security forces (ISF) should be taken the lead in those four governorates. Most of the South has been turned over to the Iraqi security forces. We will still be taking the lead in Al-Anbar and Salah Ad-Din where the insurgency is strongest. The training and maturing of the ISF will continue to improve. I predict that they will be fully matured in 2008. And then they can take on the insurgency by themselves.

I hope that Iraq economy will continue to grow, but I doubt they will grow at the same rate. The phenomenon growth rate in the last two years (50+% in 2004 and 26% in 2006) has more to do with the low starting base. If the economy can grow at 6 percents, I would be happy. It is important that we do much more to help. Iraqi financial institutions are in a primitive state. We need to help them reform their financial institutions; bringing them to at least 20th century standard and capability. A person should at least be able to deposit money into one branch and withdraw them at a different branch which is not currently possible in Iraqi banks.

On the home front, we need shore up support for the war. The loss of support for the war is due to two reasons: the normal isolationist tendency of the US public and the failure of the administration to explain the war. There is not much we can do about the isolationist tendency among our people in the short run. The US public has always been isolationist. We always have two oceans to insulate us from the danger of the world beyond. September 11th shocked us into the truth that the world beyond is a dangerous place and its impact directly on us. But many still find comfort in isolationism – that the problem of others is their problem alone. It is comforting thought but dangerous. The consequence for loosing in Iraq is immense. This is the most important war we fought since the Great War and we must convince the public of that reality. In the short run, the administration needs to do a much better job of explaining the war. We should not sugarcoat the fact that the war is a difficult enterprise entailing serious sacrifice in blood and treasure. But it is absolutely winnable and it must be won. In the long run, we should improve our education system so that our children are learning more about things beyond our border and how things far away impacting our lives.

Another domestic issue is government spending. It is my deepest hope that we can cut back on federal spending and curb the budget deficit. 2005 was a year of shame for the Republican Congress and the Republican White House. We increased spending on entitlements, we increased pork barrels spending, and we even increased regulatory spending. It is my hope that the Republican Party realizes how unhappy many of loyal Republicans are with the Party. It is time we return to the Party of Limited Government. The first thing to do is to severely cut back on pork barrel spending. I am realistic enough to not expect a reverse in our spending trend, I am happy enough if we can significantly slow down the growth rate in federal spending.


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12:14 AM  

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