Has America lost her perspective on what is going on in Iraq? Americans have rightly been revolted at the images of prisoner abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison, but it seems as if the real stories of Iraq, stories of brave troops and a liberated people, are being drowned out, if they were being told at all.
Here is just a small sample of the good your loved ones and their colleagues are doing in Iraq. The information was compiled from various sources, including the White House, the American Forces Information Service, Forbes magazine, a special report by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, SFC Ray Reynolds (234th Signal Battalion, Iowa National Guard), SPC Tim Wenzel (333rd MP Co.) and Mike Brinkmeier of Operation Homefront.
On May 11th, Iraqis took back their Ministry of Water Resources, which oversees irrigation and hydroelectric dams. The Ministry had already accomplished the restoration of wetlands Saddam had drained and the cleanup of 10,000 miles of clogged irrigation canals that had been neglected under the old regime. By the June 30th sovereignty deadline, the Ministry intends to be generating 6,000 megawatts of power from its hydroelectric dams. That’s more than has ever been generated in Iraq.
The Iraqi Army is well-trained enough and large enough to supply a brigade to secure the roads around Fallujah, freeing up U.S. Marines for combat action there.
Coalition troops and American contractors have renovated 2,500 schools, and another 800 are in progress. Nine million new math and science textbooks have been distributed to replace books that were mostly Ba’ath Party propaganda. Teachers now earn 12 to 25 times what they did before the war. All 22 universities have been re-opened.
The Iraqi health care system once had a budget of $16 million. Now it’s $1 billion. All of Iraq’s 240 hospitals and 1,200 clinics are now open, and they are seeing 30% more patients than before the war. Children have been given 22 million vaccine doses. Ouch!
A court system with 600 judges is now in place. Under the new rules, defendants have the same rights (Miranda, defense lawyers, etc.) as in our system.
More than 120 newspapers operate with full freedom of the press. Two have been shut down, but only after they tried to incite violence against Coalition troops.
Fifteen million people now have access to clean water. In Mosul, one neighborhood had been flooded with raw sewage for 17 years. Local workers were able to fix the problem for only $40,000.
Last December former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger wrote in Forbes, “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.”
During Specialist Wenzel’s leave in November, he and Mike Brinkmeier compared notes on places that both had passed through in Iraq. Typical of these was the southern town of Safwa. When Brinkmeier passed through there was no water or electricity. When Wenzel arrived there was water and power, and the U.S. Army was repairing the local roads.
Baghdad has a newly elected mayor, and he will be working with an elected city council.
The Iraqi Olympic team is preparing for the Athens games in August. For the first time in more than a decade, Iraqi athletes won’t have to worry about being tortured if they lose a match. Some of them train in T-shirts that read, “Iraq is Back!”
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment is that Iraqis no longer have to fear their own government. Reacting to the political brouhaha surrounding the Abu Ghraib photos, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe said, “I would guess that these prisoners wake up every morning thanking Allah that Saddam Hussein is not in charge of these prisons. When he was in charge, they would take electric drills and drill holes through hands, they would cut their tongues out, they would cut their ears off. We’ve seen accounts of lowering their bodies into vats of acid. All these things were taking place. This was the type of treatment that they had.” And certainly it wasn’t just criminals that had to worry, but today the rape rooms, torture chambers and child prisons are closed. Commenting this month on the liberation of 50 million Afghanis and Iraqis, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, “We’ve been privileged to take part in a great stride forward for human freedom in places where it has been scarce. And that is worth celebrating.”