Have you heard the news the Iraq War's price tag is going to end up as $6 trillion or up? I worked out the math on this while thinking about the various other ways we could have spent the money, and one way is we could simply have given every citizen of Iraq $218,634 and some odd cents.
So the President is in Israel and we're no closer to peace, with Israel still building settlements where it oughtn't and basically controlling the nearly non-existent Palestinian economy and the Palestinian "authorities" still so corrupted with a half century of anti-semitic hate and propaganda and eternally weak that they can't even keep people from launching missiles at Israel, much less provide in a meaningful way for its own citizens.
In the 1960s some wags at United Aircraft, where my Dad worked for a the time doing research into weapons technology and counterinsurgency techniques, did a similar cost-benefit analysis of both the prosecution of the Vietnam War and the benefits to the American public of defense spending. They called the resulting proposal The Pavement Pacification Plan. The idea was simple: instead of bombing North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh trail, we would dispatch the American road construction industry and start paving over as much of North Vietnam as possible into six-lane highways. If the results were similar to what had happened to America's urban centers and environmentally sensitive hinterlands that had been subdivided by highways, (1) there would be no more jungle to hide in (2) everybody in Vietnam would have a construction job for 25 years and (3) American industry would continue to benefit without having to risk the lives of a half million troops in the process.
I'm sure it was a jokey plan at the time, but the science of economic behavioralism strongly suggests it might've worked. Given sufficient economic rewards, people will engage in behaviors en masse and individually that would astonish you.
I have an even simpler idea: for every month there's no terrorist attack on Israel, pay every person in Palestinian-controlled areas a thousand bucks. For every month the net population does no increase and there's no building in the West Bank settlements where Israel has been forbidden to construct new buildings by UN and treaty agreement, give every citizen of Israel a thousand dollars.
You think this is whacky? Well, with the resources we put into the "peace" we have in Iraq applied to the much smaller populations of Israel (7.7 million) and the Palestinian areas outside Israel (4 million), we could keep this up for FORTY-FIVE years and still have change leftover for a whole new three-quarter billion dollar US Embassy someplace.
And in the meantime, nobody dies.
If this sounds like a crazy idea, let me ask you: is a pre-emptive war that cost the lives of at least 100,000 people and costs us $6 trillion a good idea? Has more than a half century of conflict in the middle east been halted by another approach?