Looking On The Bright Side

George Ward has an interesting editorial in the New York Times (of all places!) in which he argues that Iraq is far better off than many have painted it to be.

Still, Iraq is in most respects further along the road to recovery than we could have expected before the war. All major public hospitals in Baghdad are again operating. Sixty percent of Iraq’s schools are open. Nationwide distribution of food supplies has resumed. Despite some damage to the oil wells, petroleum production exceeds domestic needs, and exports should begin again soon. More Iraqis are receiving electric power than before the war. This progress is the result of efforts by capable Iraqi civil servants working with experts from the coalition governments and international humanitarian groups.

It’s clear that that the Iraqis are far better off now than they were before the war. Saddam’s death squads no longer roam the streets. What resistance that remains is being hit with overwhelming force. While some pundits have been claiming that we’ll yet see Somalia-style urban warfare in Iraq, the facts paint a different story. One attack on US soldiers led to dozens of militants being blown into smithereens by US forces. This isn’t like Afghanistan in the 1980’s where the mujahadeen had the support of US Stinger missiles that gave them an edge. Militants who might fight for Hussein don’t stand a chance. They cannot escape the coalition’s forces for long, their training camps are now firing ranges for US troops, and they can’t blend into a hostile civilian population.

Even those groups marching against the US enjoy little support, and are mainly being funded by the Iranians who are quickly losing their grip over their own people. The wave of democratization that many neoconservatives have predicted do appear to be materializing, albeit slowly and against the resistance of the old regimes.

While there will be occasional firefights, the real work that needs to be done is in rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure and fostering a new sense of civil society. Those tasks will take years to come to fruition, but in the here and now the people of Iraq have a sense of hope that they did not have under the murderous Hussein regime.

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