Monday, October 25, 2004

What’s Right About Iraq?

The dreary outlook on just about everything put out by the mainstream media today goes well beyond the dictum “if it bleeds, it leads,” and the overused excuse that people are more interested in bad news than good. By focusing almost entirely on the horrible things that happen in Iraq, to the exclusion of the good things that happen there, the media are cheating their audience of the information they need to form opinions based upon truth, and forcing them to form opinions on just some of the truth. There can be no greater abdication of responsibility than this.

Doing its small part to counteract this dreadful malfeasance by the “legitimate” information purveyors, Observations presents some good news from Iraq.


From the beginning, of course, there has been a counterpoint from those who are encouraged by what they see — often expressed via the Internet. "As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media," Ray Reynolds, an Iowa Army National Guard medic, wrote in an e-mail forwarded to the Los Angeles Times. "They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened." His e-mail cited a litany of positive changes in Iraq since the invasion, from increased immunizations and educational opportunities for children — including, notably, girls — to reopened hospitals, ports and improved delivery of drinking water and telephone service. (LA Times)


Democratic voices are being raised insistently, in Syria and Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and though you may say this would have happened anyway, there is no doubt of what ignited the current debate.

Most important is the military traction that is being gained. One Welsh regiment of the British army recently killed more than 300 Mahdi army thugs for the loss of three soldiers: odds too painful for the boastful jihadists to take. A dangerous Osama bin Laden emulator, Abu Musab Zarqawi, imported to Iraq before the intervention, will very soon be destroyed along with his foreign infiltrators.

The U.S. armed forces are learning every day how to fight in extreme conditions, in post-rogue-state and post-failed-state surroundings, with the forces of medieval tyranny. Does anyone think this is not experience worth having, or that it will not be needed again? And does anyone want to imagine what Iraq would have looked like now if we had let it go on the way it was before? Too late and too little, to be sure, but nonetheless one of the noblest responsibilities we have ever shouldered. (Christopher Hitchens, Columnist for Vanity Fair)


I watched city council meetings in places such as Kirkuk. Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens compromised on issues that spanned the languages taught in public schools to affirmative action within the police force. In the southern city of Nasiriya, taxi drivers, religious students and engineers debated the merits of federalism.

Dire predictions of civil war between ethnic and sectarian groups did not materialize, despite terrorist bombings against Shiite processions, Christian churches and Kurdish celebrations.

Iraqis complain about security but are positive about the future. They reflect optimism not only in polls but also in actions. The new Iraqi currency, issued on Oct. 15, 2003, at 2,000 Iraqi dinars to the dollar, is free of Hussein's image. It is also free-floating, and even at the height of the April uprising and the battle for Najaf, it remained stable, trading between 1,400 and 1,500 dinars to the dollar. If Iraq is in trouble, don't tell the Canadians: The dinar regularly outperforms the Canadian dollar on international markets.

Iraqis also express confidence with investment, which spans the country. Electricity is unreliable, so restaurateurs have invested as much as $50,000 for top-model generators. A new clothing boutique represents a $200,000 investment. There are new hotels in Najaf and Karbala. Cigarette venders have traded pushcarts for tobacco shops. Kurdish investors are constructing a cancer treatment center in Erbil. In the slums of Sadr City, houses cost $45,000, nearly double their prewar value. In the swankier district of Mansur, new houses sell for more than 10 times that amount.

No Iraqi would invest his or her life savings if they feared civil war or perpetual lawlessness. (Michael Rubin, visiting professor in Iraqi Kurdistan)

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