Eclectic Floridian: Good News from Iraq - Believe it!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Good News from Iraq - Believe it!

I ran across this excellent post, you should read the whole thing. It's long, but extremely well written and cogent.


I should also say that a precipitous departure from Iraq is in no one's best interest. Anti-war sentiment can easily lead one to condemn the Iraq action. But, let's face it, regardless of the reasons, we started it. We put the Iraqi people in this situation. We have an obligation to help see them through the aftermath.

The author of this article is Amir Taheri, formerly the executive editor of Kayhan, Irans largest daily newspaper. He is the author of ten books and a frequent contributor to numerous publications in the Middle East and Europe. His work appears regularly in the New York Post. I will excerpt a number of his salient points:

Spending time in the United States after a tour of Iraq can be a disorienting experience these days. ... It is created in several overlapping ways: through television footage showing the charred remains of vehicles used in suicide attacks, surrounded by wailing women in black and grim-looking men carrying coffins; by armchair strategists and political gurus predicting further doom...

Sounds like his view of MSM coverage is a bit jaded. With his qualifications, he has a right.

It would be hard indeed for the average interested citizen to find out on his own just how grossly this image distorts the realities of present-day Iraq.

... the half-truths and outright misinformation that now function as conventional wisdom have gravely disserved the American people.

For someone like myself who has spent considerable time in Iraq a country I first visited in 1968 current reality there is, nevertheless, very different from this conventional wisdom, and so are the prospects for Iraqs future. It helps to know where to look, what sources to trust, and how to evaluate the present moment against the background of Iraqi and Middle Eastern history.

Since my first encounter with Iraq almost 40 years ago, I have relied on several broad measures of social and economic health to assess the country's condition. Through good times and bad, these signs have proved remarkably accurate as accurate, that is, as is possible in human affairs.
The first sign is refugees. When things have been truly desperate in Iraq in 1959, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1980, 1988, and 1990 long queues of Iraqis have formed at the Turkish and Iranian frontiers, hoping to escape.In 1973 ... some 1.2 million Iraqis left their homes in the space of just six weeks .... it was a scene regularly repeated under Saddam Hussein.

Since the toppling of Saddam in 2003, this is one highly damaging image we have not seen on our television sets and we can be sure that we would be seeing it if it were there to be shown. To the contrary, Iraqis, far from fleeing, have been returning home. By the end of 2005, in the most conservative estimate, the number of returnees topped the 1.2-million mark. Many of the camps set up for fleeing Iraqis in Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia since 1959 have now closed down.

A second dependable sign likewise concerns human movement, but of a different kind. This is the flow of religious pilgrims to the Shiite shrines in Karbala and Najaf. Whenever things start to go badly in Iraq, this stream is reduced to a trickle and then it dries up completely. From 1991 (when Saddam Hussein massacred Shiites involved in a revolt against him) to 2003, there were scarcely any pilgrims to these cities. Since Saddams fall, they have been flooded with visitors. In 2005, the holy sites received an estimated 12 million pilgrims, making them the most visited spots in the entire Muslim world, ahead of both Mecca and Medina.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank ... The countrys gross domestic product rose to almost $90 billion in 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available), more than double the output for 2003, and its real growth rate, as estimated by the IMF, was 52.3 per cent. In that same period, exports increased by more than $3 billion, while the inflation rate fell to 25.4 percent, down from 70 percent in 2002. The unemployment rate was halved, from 60 percent to 30 percent.

Related to this is the level of agricultural activity ... In the past two years, by contrast, Iraqi agriculture has undergone an equally unprecedented revival. Iraq now exports foodstuffs to neighboring countries, something that has not happened since the 1950s.

Finally, one of the surest indices of the health of Iraqi society has always been its readiness to talk to the outside world. Iraqis are a verbalizing people; ... There have been times, indeed, when one could find scarcely a single Iraqi, whether in Iraq or abroad, prepared to express an opinion on anything remotely political ... Today, again by way of dramatic contrast, Iraqis are voluble to a fault. Talk radio, television talk-shows, and Internet blogs are all the rage, while heated debate is the order of the day in shops, tea-houses, bazaars, mosques, offices, and private homes. A catharsis ... 100 privately-owned newspapers and magazines and more than two dozen radio and television stations. To anyone familiar with the state of the media in the Arab world, it is a truism that Iraq today is the place where freedom of expression is most effectively exercised.

He disagrees that Democracy cannot be "imposed" on Iraq because it has no tradition of Democracy.

The country came into being through a popular referendum held in 1921. A constitutional monarchy modeled on the United Kingdom, it had a bicameral parliament, several political parties (including the Baath and the Communists), and periodic elections that led to changes of policy and government. At the time, Iraq also enjoyed the freest press in the Arab world, plus the widest space for debate and dissent in the Muslim Middle East.

... by any reasonable standard, Iraqis have made extraordinary strides. In a series of municipal polls and two general elections in the past three years, up to 70 percent of eligible Iraqis have voted. This new orientation is supported by more than 60 political parties and organizations, the first genuinely free-trade unions in the Arab world, a growing number of professional associations acting independently of the state, and more than 400 nongovernmental organizations representing diverse segments of civil society. A new constitution, written by Iraqis representing the full spectrum of political, ethnic, and religious sensibilities was overwhelmingly approved by the electorate in a referendum last October.

There is so much more in the article that you must read it! He discusses how the insurgents have failed at every turn, how the quality of life has improved and how determined the Iraqi people are to make a go of this opportunity.

The Bush administration seems to have done much more good in Iraq than they have in the U.S.

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