Disdain, Ill-founded Criticism Relates To 2004 Elections
By Former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger in Forbes Magazine. Sent by 1stAdmPAO
One of the problems of our postwar results in Iraq is that most of the principal U.S. press outlets have been reporting, to the exclusion of almost anything else, the negative events since our military stunningly toppled Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. It's time to redress the balance and present our readers with some facts that demonstrate how well America's goals in Iraq are being achieved.
Let's begin by acknowledging that all is not perfect in Iraq. Crime rates are high, almost as high as New York City's. Our forces have had to deal with the depredation and senseless destruction loosed on the country by some 100,000 of Iraq's criminals, whom Saddam released from jail shortly before our troops went in.
What we are seeing now is the uniform disdain and ill-founded criticisms of those who opposed the war from the beginning; those who, because of next year's presidential election, oppose everything the Administration or President Bush does or says; and those countries, such as France and Germany, that are angered by any suggestion of American success anywhere and which fear their huge and improvident prewar loans to Iraq may not be repaid. Many of these countries are also motivated by equally tawdry reasons of trade.
But despite all the negative reportage there is a great deal of good news —especially for those who hope to see a free and democratically led Iraq living in peace with itself and its neighbors.
Nearly all of Iraq's schools are open, and data from 10 of the primary and secondary schools showed an encouraging increase in enrollment. All 22 universities and 43 technical institutes are also open. In October universities received 1,500 computers, and South Korea is helping establish Internet centers.
Teachers now earn 12 to 25 times their former salaries. The Economist reported that before the war a Baghdad primary school teacher was paid the equivalent of $6 a month; her husband, a factory overseer, earned $13 a month. Today their combined monthly income is close to $450; for the first time they are able to buy many standard consumer goods.
All 240 hospitals and 1,200 primary health clinics are open. Spending for public health is more than 26 times what it was during Saddam's regime, and doctors' salaries are 8 times what they were. More than 22 million vaccine doses have been given to children, and more than two-thirds of drinking water supplies have been restored.
By Oct. 24 we had trained some 85,500 Iraqis: 55,000 police; 6,400 border guards; an 18,700-man Facilities Protection Corps; 700 new Iraqi Army graduates, with the goal of 27 battalions trained in a year; a 4,700-man Civil Defense Corps; and an additional 10,000 Iraqis in training for these forces. In addition, 32 countries have more than 24,000 troops on the ground in Iraq, including the Polish-led forces that are in command of the south-central part of the country.
Our training and recruiting personnel have had to deal with the fact that, in order to survive, most Iraqis had to have had some association with or given some support to Saddam and his Baathist Party regime. It is therefore slow work ensuring that those we are training are suitable for the work in the new Iraq.
Years of neglect wreaked major damage on Iraqi water, power and sewerage systems. All are being repaired and improved. Oil production, even from oilfields urgently in need of modernization following decades of calculated neglect, averaged 1.9 million barrels a day in October and is moving closer to the prewar level of 3 million.
Power generation reached 4,518 megawatts of electricity in early October, compared with 300 megawatts, prewar. Three-fourths of the prewar level of telephone service has been restored.
The courts are in session, and some 50,000 claims against the old government have been filed with the bar association.
A new currency has been issued and the independent central bank opened two months after the war ended. It took three years for post-WWII occupied Germany to do this
On July 13 Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator Paul Bremer appointed the all-Iraqi Governing Council. On Nov. 15 the CPA and the Council committed to a political timetable for Iraq. As the White House announced, the plan “meets a key mutual objective of the Coalition and the Iraqi people: the restoration of sovereignty to a body chosen by the citizens of Iraq and based in a legal framework. It also commits Iraq to a process for drafting a permanent, democratic constitution that protects the rights of all citizens.”
On Nov. 6 President Bush signed the Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental appropriations bill into law. This will bring $87 billion to our global war on terror. It will help support our servicemen and -women with weapons, equipment and salaries; build stable democratic societies in these two countries, as well as train and equip those citizens who are fighting to defend and secure their rights; upgrade schools and hospitals; and repair infrastructure and improve services, such as water, electricity and sanitation.
It wasn't until last month that papers began reporting on the progress that's been made in Iraq. We must keep in mind that it has been only seven months since our military brought down Saddam and that it will take time for the Iraqis to build the foundation for a free, self-governing country.