Yes, you read correctly. I will now present a solution to The Iraq Problem that will result in a stable democracy. Not only is it elegantly simplistic, but it won't cost one cent of US taxpayer money. In fact, it will be paid for entirely by American corporations. Sound too good to be true? Judge for yourself.
Iraq's problem at the moment is that most children are raised, from a very young age, to be very strictly religious and to passionately hate the other ethnic groups. A democracy is impossible under such circumstances. Their belief systems need to be moderated. The solution, in only two letters, is T.V.
American television is hugely addictive. It appeals to universal human appetites for drama, adventure and humor. I have now lived in three different European countries for a total of 5.5 years. In all three, at least half of the entertainment programming on television and 80% of the movies have been from America. Even in Spain, where it's all overdubbed, we get all the currently popular US shows, like Desperate Housewives, 24, CSI, Grey's Anatomy, House, and Lost. It's not that the Spanish or the Danes can't make great shows too, because they do. It's that the quality, and universal appeal, of shows coming out of America, probably due to higher advertising budgets, is just so high! And when I say "quality", I mean "ability to entertain the masses".
At first, the authoritarian dictator(s) of Iraq will prohibit the viewing of such blasphemy. People will be executed for watching these unsanctioned television stations. The antennas will have to be protected in some way, because they will be attacked. And they should be rebuilt after they are destroyed.
Slowly, but surely, people will be unable to resist a little peak in the privacy of their own homes. After a year or so, people will start talking quietly in groups about how Trisha kissed Bobby in whatever teen drama is popular at the time. Kids will tell their parents that their friends' parents let them watch Malcolm In The Middle on Thursdays. Very, very slowly, despite harsh resistance from elders and religious and political authority figures, the Iraqi society will be unable to resist the drug that is American television.
What will they learn? First of all, they will see lots of free, unveiled, women. They will also see people free to talk about their ideas, and even talk negatively about the government, without harsh consequences. They will see the criminal justice system providing fair trials to the accused. They will see people of different races, nationalities, and religions living (relatively) peacefully together. I'm sure there are many other Iraqi social taboos that I don't even know about that are blatantly broken on your average episode of Friends or Dawson's Creek.
It will take at least 10 years, probably closer to 20, before the people that are of strong, government-overthrowing, revolutionary age can't remember a time when rogue American television stations weren't commonplace. If the government is still enforcing burka laws then, it won't take long for it to be overthrown.
Do I even need to explain how easy it will be to get Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, et. al. to pay for the construction, defense, and maintenance of the antennas?
Once we've pulled out of Iraq and set up the antennas, we can spend our time and energy into preventing America from becoming a totalitarian theocracy itself.
I'm pretty sure that you just can't make UHF and VHF signals travel far enough from the borders to reach the central areas of Iraq. The only other option would be to use a satellite and then flood the country with dirt cheap dishes and decoders, but those are easier for the government to prevent.
And no, you don't need to tell a cynic such as myself that the US government doesn't really have any interest in setting up a stable democracy and "liberating" the Iraqi people.
So, what do you think?