The Austin American-Statesman has an interesting piece on the reflections of a veteran Foreign Service Officer about his work in Iraq.
"There’s just an incredible amount of productive stuff going on over there, with a lot of Iraqi participation", he said. "To come here and see it portrayed as a failure in the making — it’s very superficial and inaccurate."
It’s Lucke’s job to get the lights on, the water clean and running, the phones working, the trash picked up, roads and bridges repaired, and schools and hospitals fully operating. He has a staff of 90 in a second-floor office in the Baghdad Convention Center, 500 independent contractors such as Save the Children spread around the country, and a preliminary budget of more than $1 billion.
He said the job certainly isn’t finished after only five months of effort, but much more of it is progressing than many Americans realize.
“Seven-eighths of the country is calm,” he said. “Certainly functional. I’ve traveled all over. We don’t see chaos around us, but a tremendous amount of change, with a large number of Iraqis doing a lot of the work and the planning. We try to use Iraqi firms to create employment and put money in the economy.”
Lucke’s comments match with those of everyone I’ve talked to who has served in Iraq and many other who have reported what they saw there. They didn’t see a quagmire, they didn’t see a disaster, they didn’t see a failure of policy. What they saw was a nation that had been ravaged by years of dictatorship that is just beginning to rebuild.
It is clear that the media is either intentionally spinning Iraq or being fed propaganda by those who have an interest in Iraq falling into tyranny once again. They’re either being uninformed or intentionally malicious – either way they are not reporting the truth. While the security situation in Iraq is still unsettled, the bombings in the Sunni Triangle aren’t effecting the lives of most of the over twenty million people in Iraq. Yet by the tone and selective reporting of the media, one would think that the country is falling apart.
The reality is anything but. When electricity production is now greater than pre-war levels, when thousands of Iraqi schoolchildren can now attend classes without fear, when the New Iraqi Army begins taking over security duties from US troops, and when the health care system in Iraq is finally functional after years of neglect, one would think that the media would see those as signs of progress. Instead the media focuses only on the negative at the expense of a realistic picture of Iraq. In a time when cynicism about the media is at an all-time high one would think that the media would consciously attempt to be objective – then again, when the media cannot even admit their faults how can anyone expect them to fix them?