I agree with Myerson that it is important to understand why local elections were blocked. I am not as willing as he is to eliminate some possible explanations, in particular
1: Jay Garner's theory that all the reason was to impose pure free market economic policies which would have been opposed by any elected Iraqi official. Juan Cole agrees with Garner. Myerson argues
the suggestion of a free-market motivation seems implausible to me (and I am professor of economics at the University of Chicago, where advocating free markets is a local specialty). Even those who hoped to buy Iraqi public assets for bargain-basement prices should have recognized that, for long-term enforcement of their property rights, these transactions would need more legitimacy than occupation officials alone could provide.
I note that the assumption that people are rational is also a local specialty over there. To be very polit, it seems hard to reconcile CPA policy with the rational utility maximisation model. In particular Bush administration policy seems to me to be consistently based on the logic "get our way by any means necessary, we are so right that if we get our way the outcome will be so wonderful so soon that people who we couldn't convince in rational debate ex ante will see that we were right". B. might have thought that free market economics would lead to an economic miracle by January 2005 which would retroactively legitimate the policy and resulting property claims. Such otpimisim requires complete ignorance of the short term effects of the most successful shock therapies. Hmm "complete ignorance," if the shoe fits wear it.
2. Myerson's view that the aim was to help exile politicians (that is Chalabi). Very plausible. Probably at least part of the explanation.
3. General distrust of democracy and control freaking out. This is a very simple expalanation, and to me, very plausible. B. semi follows Augustine praying "Oh Lord give me democracy in Iraq but not just now".
4. No criticism before the US election. Any democratic process would give a legitimate platform to at least some critics of Bush. Thus it must be delayed until after November 2004. I think this is a very strong complement to 3 and an important factor.
3 and 4 have long convinced me, here with reference to the mercifully short lived pseudo caucus proposal.
In general, I think Myerson's approach "cui bono" relies to much an the assumption of rationality, or, as I wrote in April "is the Bush-Bermer team even dumber than I thought ?" posted by Robert
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