Thursday, June 12, 2008

Improved Iraqi Security Leads to Reconstruction, Jobs

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

June 12, 2008 - Improvements in overall
security incidents and Iraqi forces continued to rise during the past week, enabling the central government and coalition forces to begin progress in other areas vital to Iraq's growth and sovereignty, a senior U.S. military official in Iraq said yesterday. The country began to see a reduction in security incidents four weeks ago, marking the lowest levels since March 2004, Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference. The Iraqi government is undertaking broader efforts to provide services that were not possible a year ago, such as reconstruction in Sadr City and the Shola neighborhoods as well as agricultural initiatives across the country, he said.

Electricity, water, cleaning, infrastructure restoration, and humanitarian aid projects are under way in Sadr City, said Tahseen al-Sheikhly, a civilian spokesman for Operation Fardh al-Qanoon, also known as the Baghdad
Security Plan. These projects will help eliminate unemployment for Baghdad citizens, which is the cause of much of the violence in the city, Sheikhly said.

Now that
security has been achieved, he added, the challenge is to provide the best services to the citizens, thereby raising the living and economic standards and infrastructure.

The Ministry of Electricity already has replaced light poles and restored power to the Sadr City hospital, he said. Officials also are establishing a solar power system in an effort to minimize future outages and continue growing employment opportunities.

Agriculture also is benefiting from the low
security-incident levels, Bergner said. The government's date palm spraying campaign raised more than 33 percent from the previous year, covering more than 170,000 acres in Babil, Baghdad, Diyala, Karbala, Wasit provinces.

Iraqi pilots flew 336 spraying sorties under difficult time constraints and challenging weather conditions using two government Mi-2 helicopters, Bergner continued. Baghdad and Diyala provinces were sprayed for the first time in six years, as security conditions since the war began hadn't permitted spraying until now.

"Iraqi planning for the 2009 spraying campaign is already under way," he added, noting he Ministry of Agriculture has appropriated some $20 million for helicopters and spare parts.

"Progress in the agriculture sector and other improvements are a direct result of the
security gains around Iraq and the growing capacity of Iraqi forces," Bergner said. "The increasing support of Iraq's citizens for the rule of law has been a key factor in reducing the levels of violence."

Since the beginning of Operation Sawlat al-Fursan on March 25 in Basra and Operation A'Salaam on May 20 in Sadr City, Iraqi
security forces have uncovered more than 500 weapons caches and stockpiles -- 378 in Basra and 124 in Sadr City, Bergner said. More than 3,500 mortars, 1,600 rocket-propelled grenades, 600 improvised explosive devices, and 75 armor-piercing explosively formed projectiles were confiscated.

"As Iraqi forces and Iraqi citizens cooperate to remove weapons from the hands of extremists before they can be used, their government is increasingly capable of being able to provide the services that Dr. Sheikhly talked about to the Iraqi people," he said.

The increased
security will "allow businesses to reopen, allow children to go back to school, revitalize the agriculture sector as they are in the process of doing, and allow Iraqis to rebuild their lives," he said.

"There is still much tough work ahead, but the steady progress in Basra, in Baghdad, and in Mosul is now providing better opportunities for the citizens of Iraq," the general said.

1 comment:

John Maszka said...

The question for Americans today is this: How much in blood and treasure are we willing to sacrifice to impose a western-style democracy upon a people who do not appear to want it?

Five years ago, the United States embarked upon a war that was not necessary. Furthermore the Bush administration planned and executed the war in such a covert manner that it was ill-prepared to do do it correctly. What's worse, the Bush administration's deliberate withholding of information from Congress and outright deception toward the American public was only outdone by its refusal to look at the intelligence data objectively.

According to Paul Pillar (2008, 238-9), the Bush administration reversed the methodical procedures, instead of using intelligence to drive policy, it used “policy to drive intelligence.” Still worse, Pillar states that the “Bush administration deviated from the professional standard... in aggressively using intelligence to win public support for its decision to go to war.” Pillar points out that the administration’s “cherry-picking” of intelligence to support its agenda completely disregarded the intelligence community’s recommendations and judgments.

Still the Bush administration proceeded in its plans for war despite public protest and warning from some very well-informed individuals. It wasn’t just traditional Bush critics that protested against the administration's war plans either. Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft wrote an open editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Don’t Attack Saddam.” (Powell thanked him, Rice was irate). Both former Secretary of State James Baker and Henry Kissinger also wrote articles warning against a unilateral war in Iraq. Even General Franks himself told Bush plainly on September 6, 2002 that he had no knowledge of WMD in Iraq. Franks told the president that they had been looking for WMD for 10 years and “I haven’t seen scud one” (Woodward, 2004, 173).

Jessica Stern (2004:1118) argues that by invading Iraq without first sufficiently preparing for a “functioning state,” America created the very threat the Bush administration claimed to be thwarting: “a weak state unable to police its borders or to maintain a monopoly on violence.”

Is this not the very situation we've been struggling with for over five years? Yet articles such as these by Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden suggest that we should celebrate the fact that five years later, we're beginning to take steps to rebuild the agriculture, infrastructure and economy of Iraq.

Many experts have plainly stated that we will never rebuild Iraq until we leave, because we are not welcome there. Iraq is a failed state. And the United States is primarily responsible for making it such. As we all understand, failed states create opportunities for terrorist organizations, and as Dr. Hani al-Sibai explains “the continuation of anti-occupation resistance will produce several groups that might later merge into one large group” (reprinted in Stern, 2004:1120).

Dr. Al-Sibai has also pointed out that the U.S. attacked Iraq without first securing the border. This allowed for countless jihadi, extremists and insurgents to enter the country. This also substantially increased the likelihood that these elements would secure weapons, technology and materials left behind by Saddam’s regime. The very caches this article is so proudly announcing have been found. But how many more remain?

The leader of MET Bravo (inspection team), Captain J. Ryan Cutchin, revealed to the New York Times “that his team often arrived at sites identified as housing WMD after looters had stolen everything of value.”

Jessica Stern concludes that the Bush administration’s approach to Iraq has “made the world more dangerous and more uncertain. The war has split the allies, not the terrorists” (Stern, 2004:1121).

In Iraq, sectarian violence has become a horrifying part of daily life in many areas. When a people faces the daily uncertainties of life in a dangerously unstable country, it values stability above all else. Freedom from fear and insecurity trumps the freedom to vote or to open a newspaper. Until Iraq’s Shi‘a, Sunnis and Kurds finally win freedom from fear of sectarian attack and economic exclusion, they will demand stability... Before Iraq or Afghanistan can become a democracy, it must become a country safe enough for open political debate (Bremmer, 2007:36).

At some point, the US has to assess what is working in Iraq, and what is not. The cost of military operations in Iraq has increased from $75 billion in 2003 to $96 billion in 2004, to $108 billion in 2005, to $122 billion in 2006, and is estimated to reach $170 billion for 2007 (Committee on the Budget, 2007). The war in Iraq has cost even more in human lives and destruction of property, not to mention the damage it’s done to Iraqi society. Yet for all the carnage, heartache and hard- earned taxpayer’s money, the only thing that everyone can agree upon, is that the situation in Iraq is far from resolved:

“The solution to Iraq -- an Iraq that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself -- is more than a military mission. Precisely the reason why I sent more troops into Baghdad."
-President George W. Bush, April 3, 2007 (Bushisms, 2007).