Give Iraq a
As far as
the American mainstream media and the antiwar crowd are concerned, the
invasion of Iraq was a major blunder and continues to be an irreparable
mistake that will forever tarnish the image of the United States. This,
to them, is a fact. They are convinced that the debate over the
worthiness of the war has long been over and won by those who believe
that the Bush administration misled the coalition into a conflict that
has now developed into a civil war, exacerbated terrorism and probably
somehow contributed to global warming.
reality on the ground is not as disheartening. True, we certainly have
not progressed to the point we had hoped to reach in four years. And
yes, terrorist activity and sectarian violence continue to be more
widespread than we expected. Many Iraqi civilians and coalition troops
have died, and the Sunni triangle remains unstable. Simply put, the
current situation in Iraq is far from perfect.
the discouraging news makes for only part of the story – and it just so
happens to be the part that we hear about on television and in the
newspapers. Despite gloomy reports coming out of Iraq on a daily basis,
there are in fact many developments about which we can be happy and
should be proud.
economy is thriving. Estimates put Iraq’s average GDP growth in the last
couple of years at 15 percent. The number of registered companies has
more than quadrupled in three years, and the number of cell phone users
has quintupled in merely two. Construction, real estate and trade are
flourishing in the face of violence. Pro-growth economic action by the
government has allowed for the elimination of major subsidies and
tariffs, all of which used to choke competition and development.
has allowed for cheaper imported goods, and at the same time, the Iraqis
have more money to spend on these goods. In four years, salaries have
more than doubled, and thanks to the smart reduction in income tax
rates, the Iraqis can contribute more to the growth of their own
economy. The Iraqis’ willingness to invest in their own country
demonstrates their trust in their government and the coalition –
something that cannot be said about the American populace.
Increasingly successful military operations are also complementing the
strength of the Iraqi economy in painting a picture of Iraq that is both
more realistic and more optimistic than the one we usually hear about.
Though in its early stages, the latest operation to secure Baghdad,
going hand in hand with the recent U.S. troop surge, appears to be
working well. In an important development, General David Petraeus has
noted that there have already been fewer sectarian attacks since the
beginning of the campaign.
also being made in areas that had been previously written off by U.S.
and Iraqi authorities. One example is Sadr City, the highly populated
northeastern district of Baghdad that has for years been home to Moqtada
al Sadr’s Mehdi Army. Since the recent arrival of U.S. troops into the
district, the militias that used to control it have largely disappeared.
The Shiite reception of the Americans has been positive, in what is
understood to be a crucial step in the effort to reduce sectarian
violence and improve Sunni-Shiite social and political relations.
measure of progress in Iraq is the Iraqis’ own perception of the
situation in their country. They, of course, would know better than
anyone else. In the biggest opinion poll conducted in Iraq since the
coalition’s invasion in 2003, Iraqis indicated tremendous optimism. By a
majority of two to one, and contrary to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) who
insists that Iraq would be better off under Saddam Hussein, Iraqis favor
their current government over that of Hussein. The poll also found that
Baghdad residents’ sense of security has increased since the U.S.
announced its 21,000-troop increase in January. Consistently, only 27
percent of Iraqis believe they are in a civil war, compared to much
higher numbers in the United States and its media.
But all of
these facts do not matter to those intent on criticizing the war,
regardless of the progress that Americans and Iraqis make in Iraq.
Politicians such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid insist on calling
the Iraqi invasion “the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of
this country.” Similarly, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright,
who oversaw four years of increased threats in the Middle East, allowed
for the continued rape of Lebanon by Syria, and conducted policy based
on the word of a certain North Korean leader, says that “Iraq is going
to go down in history as the greatest disaster in American foreign
trend does not just exist among politicians. Americans who have been
politically opposed to the Bush administration also tend to have a
dimmer view of Iraq. A recent Gallup poll showed that Democrats tend to
view the country of Iraq less favorably than Republicans view our ally
by a margin of 10 percent. This is highly unfortunate for our troops on
the ground, and most of all for the Iraqis. Iraq’s economy is booming,
coalition forces are making great progress on the ground, and Iraqi
civilians have an optimistic take on their future. The Iraqis need our
help just a little longer; and our help must be both tangible and moral.
Right now, they’re not getting the latter. Let’s give them a chance.
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