Wednesday, November 23, 2005


These Stats on Iraq Should be on the Front Page, Not in the Editorial Section

Iraq's a lost cause? Ask the real experts - Los Angeles Times: "Yet in a survey last month from the U.S.-based International Republican Institute, 47% of Iraqis polled said their country was headed in the right direction, as opposed to 37% who said they thought that it was going in the wrong direction. And 56% thought things would be better in six months. Only 16% thought they would be worse.
American soldiers are also much more optimistic than American civilians. The Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations just released a survey of American elites that found that 64% of military officers are confident that we will succeed in establishing a stable democracy in Iraq. The comparable figures for journalists and academics are 33% and 27%, respectively. Even more impressive than the Pew poll is the evidence of how our service members are voting with their feet. Although both the Army and the Marine Corps are having trouble attracting fresh recruits no surprise, given the state of public opinion regarding Iraq reenlistment rates continue to exceed expectations. Veterans are expressing their confidence in the war effort by signing up to continue fighting.
There are also positive economic indicators that receive little or no coverage in the Western media. For all the insurgents' attempts to sabotage the Iraqi economy, the Brookings Institution reports that per capita income has doubled since 2003 and is now 30% higher than it was before the war. Thanks primarily to the increase in oil prices, the Iraqi economy is projected to grow at a whopping 16.8% next year. According to Brookings' Iraq index, there are five times more cars on the streets than in Saddam Hussein's day, five times more telephone subscribers and 32 times more Internet users.
The growth of the independent media — a prerequisite of liberal democracy — is even more inspiring. Before 2003 there was not a single independent media outlet in Iraq. Today, Brookings reports, there are 44 commercial TV stations, 72 radio stations and more than 100 newspapers."

Isn't it interesting that the Pew poll and Brookings report weren't covered on any front page that I have seen? I read several newspapers a day and have not seen any of this. I have heard people argue that the poor Iraqis must hate us being there. These figures suggest that they may be thankful. It suggests they may have taken Democracy and run with it. It also suggests that the people who think by suggesting pull-out they are doing good by our troops haven't bothered to talk to those troops. There has also been the argument that there is no fresh water and electricity still. I have trouble with that argument. If there was no electricity, there would not be all the new telephone subscribers and internet users. In fact, there couldn't be all the new media outlets either. They all require hydrated people and electricity to run them. Part of the problem for those of us lucky enough to be here in America is that we don't have a sense of what it was really like before the war in Iraq. It seems to me that there were probably just many more people out of work, without life's basics and fearful than any of us can imagine. I admit that it is hard to imagine life being better even as bombs go off in your cities. I also admit that I can't imagine living in a place where it was common that the leader of your country would feed people to lions and hang citizens from buildings in the town square to keep everyone else under control. Maybe knowing that the new leaders won't be hauling off family members to fill large holes in the ground is enough to deal with bombs in their cities. Maybe they see an end to this we don't. Maybe they see their sons and nephews signing up to learn how to protect their country. Maybe they have a new lease on patriotism that they can truly believe in. From now on, before our leaders speak for the Iraqi people and our soldiers, maybe they should talk to them first.

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