Arnold Kling has an interesting interpretation and application of a couple papers written by North, Wallis, and Weingast (NWW), in today's Tech Central Station.
Iraq was never on the "doorstep" of becoming an open-access order. The major factions are not willing to give up their weapons and concede military power to a central coalition. There are no perpetual-lived organizations that can make long-term contractual commitments. There is not even a willingness among factions to grant one another rights under the rule of law.If you accept this premise, the US is now in a very difficult spot. We would essentially need to choose some strongmen to run the country and then help them hunt down and kill their opponents. Unfortunately we've probably made enemies of any strongmen capable of keeping a lid on Iraq, and I doubt the American people would look favorably on the US Army essentially supporting a coup.
Accordingly, I would say that there is no chance that the United States will succeed in its objective of establishing an open-access order in Iraq. The best we can hope to do is restore Iraq to a natural state, meaning a limited-access order where rights and power are exclusive to certain elites, who will be subject neither to economic nor political competition as we know it.
Monday, January 08, 2007