politics, history and the war on terror
Friday, April 09, 2004
Iraq, 2004 

The news from Iraq would lead you to belief that the democratic and reconstruction efforts are on the brink of failure. While the current fighting with al-Sadr’s Mahdi militia, remnants of the Ba’ath regime and al Qaeda and foreign jihadis is a serious challenge to the future of democracy in Iraq, these threats have been present since the fall of Saddam’s regime, and had to be addressed at some point. Sadr was given the opportunity to work within the framework of the emerging government and he chose to fight it, so he will have to account for his actions. The Ba’ath and al Qaeda remnants have increased their attacks as the eve of transition approaches, but by fighting openly they have exposed themselves to our military. These are tough challenges to the military and administration, but the only way we will lose is if we lose the will to fight.

Iraq has made enormous progress in the one year since its liberation, including:

-Established of military, police and border guards.
-Created of an independent judiciary.
-Ratified interim constitution with a Bill of Rights.
-Established free press.
-Created new currency.
-Established independent central bank.
-Improved energy output, which is now greater that prior to Saddam’s rule.
-Exported $7.9 in oil, which was placed in a fund for reconstruction.
-Approved plan for transition to interim government by June 30, with scheduled elections in January 2005.
-Conducted successful local elections in many cities.
-Extensive infrastructure repairs (roads, utilities, schools, hospitals).
-Opened schools with new textbooks.
-Created business friendly environment.

The progress in Iraq one year after the invasion is unprecedented. To put this in perspective, the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after WWII, was not implemented until March of 1948, almost three years after the war ended. Crime, violence against occupation troops and profiteering were prevalent in Germany in the postwar years. There is still much work to be completed before Iraq can transition to a functioning democracy, including:

-The removal of the threat of Ba’ath resistance, local militias, radical Islamists and al Qaeda.
-Tighten border security to prevent influx of foreign support
-Increase the size of Iraqi security services and improve training.
-Speed up the release of funds for reconstruction to promote further growth & jobs.
-Increase oil output to peak levels.
-Create fund for Iraqi citizens to share the oil profits (perhaps on the Alaska model).
-Continue the privatization of state owned industries
-Complete transition to interim government and conduct successful election.

Iraq is a nation which has suffered for thirty years under the corrupt, brutal and dysfunctional Ba’ath party. Many mistakes have been made since Iraq was freed from Saddam’s perverted government. To expect perfection in the reconstruction of Iraq is unrealistic. There is no plan for occupation and reconstruction which is fail proof; this endeavor requires flexibility, imagination, effort and the will to succeed. The successes outlined above show that these characteristics are present in those responsible for rebuilding Iraq. The challenges we face today and in the future demonstrate that even more flexibility, imagination, effort and the will to succeed is needed to overcome these obstacles.

Posted by bill roggio @ 9:59 AM