Friday, October 10, 2003

Walking in Darkness, Looking for the Light

Here's a report on how badly the Reconstruction effort is going in Iraq

I dare someone to fisk this with any degree of authenticity and accuracy, based on multiple eyewitness accounts and not on hearsay.

L. Paul Bremer - Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator - Press Conference Opening Remarks

Sample excerpts:

Note: "6 months ago" does not necessarily mean after the war - in many cases it means before the war, i.e. when Iraw was still under Saddam's control

Six months ago there were no police on duty in Iraq.
  • Today there are over 40,000 police on duty, nearly 7,000 here in Baghdad alone.
  • Last night Coalition Forces and Iraqi police conducted 1,731 joint patrols.
Six months ago there were no functioning courts in Iraq.
  • Today, for the first time in over a generation, the Iraqi judiciary is fully independent.
Six months ago the entire country could generate a bare 300 megawatts of electricity.
  • On Monday, October 6 power generation hit 4,518 megawatts—exceeding the pre-war average.
Six months ago nearly all of Iraq’s schools were closed.
  • Today all 22 universities and 43 technical institutes and colleges are open, as are nearly all primary and secondary schools.
During the 1990’s Saddam cut spending on public health by over 90 percent with predictable results for the lives of his citizens.
  • Today we have increased public health spending to over 26 times what it was under Saddam.
  • Today all 240 hospitals and more than 1200 clinics are open.
  • Pharmaceutical distribution has gone from essentially nothing to 700 tons in May to a current total of 12,000 tons.
  • Since liberation we have administered over 22 million vaccination doses to Iraq’s children.
Six months ago there was no freedom of expression. Satellite dishes were illegal. Foreign journalists came on 10-day visas and paid mandatory and extortionate fees to the Ministry of Information for “minders” and other government spies.
  • Today there is no Ministry of Information.
  • Today there are more than 170 newspapers.
  • Today foreign journalists and everyone else are free to come and go.
Six months ago Iraq had not one single element—legislative, judicial or executive-- of a representative government.
  • Today in Iraq chambers of commerce, business, school and professional organizations are electing their leaders all over the country.
We are also aware that the progress we have made is only a beginning. A quarter century of negligence, cronyism and war mongering have devastated this country. Such profound damage cannot be repaired overnight.
Could all these things be happening with active resistance from most Iraqi citizens? No. Could all these things be happening without at least the tacit support of most Iraqi citizens? Again, no.

Attacks are happening, yes. Terrorists and Ba'ath-controlled militants are still resisting, yes. But they do not, nor did they ever, represent the people of Iraq. For every serviceman killed, he or she has likely traded their life for dozens of civilians who would have been killed for actually thinking or acting incorrectly.

There's an old story - a soldier is in a raft with a civilian. There's only enough food in the raft for one person - is it the soldier's responsibility to give up his or her life to "save" the civilian, or does he or she take the chance on living in order that they might stay alive to "save" dozens or even hundreds down the road. What's the soldier's responsibility?

One answer is that it's their sworn job to protect the people they've been assigned to protect. That if they can't - or are not willing - to protect one, then they can't do that job for many. Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one? It's a goofy old sci-fi quote, but it's a relevant question. Do the needs of the one outweigh the possible needs of the many?

By staying to protect the people of Iraq, and show what kindness, justice and democracy are all about - even at the sacrifice of soldier's lives - we are showing them one possible answer to that question.

"For the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light..."

Hat tip to Simmins by way of Sofia Sideshow

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