Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The truth is, it's not all murder and mayhem

Writing in the Sun-Times, Deroy Murdock points out that there is good news from Iraq, too, even if the media generally tries to ignore it. After discussing the strides in training and eqipping the Iraqis to handle their own security and military affairs, Murdock provides a litany of civil improvememnts to Iraqi society:

Infrastructure improvements also are encouraging. A new Kirkuk treatment plant began providing clean water to 5,000 people on June 27, the State Department says. Another 84 U.S.-led waterworks projects are under way in Iraq, while 114 have been completed.

Some 18,000 pupils will study in rehabilitated classrooms when they go back to school in mid-September. According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, 43 more schools were slated for renovation Aug. 6. So far, 3,211 schools have been refurbished, and another 773 are being repaired.

Iraq's monthly oil exports have grown from $200 million in June 2003 to $2.5 billion last month. This is due both to higher prices and to the fact that fuel supplies have swelled from 23 percent to 97 percent of official production goals in that period. These key improvements also help explain why Iraq's gross domestic product increased from a World Bank estimate of $12.1 billion in 2003 to a projected $21.1 billion in 2004.

Iraqis who endured Baathist censorship now enjoy a vibrant, free press.

Commercial TV channels, radio stations and independent newspapers and magazines have zoomed from zero before Operation Iraqi Freedom to -- respectively -- 29, 80 and 170 today.
Internet subscribers have boomed from 4,500 before Iraq's liberation to 147,076 last March, not counting the additional Iraqis who use Internet cafes. When Saddam Hussein fell, Iraq had 833,000 telephone subscribers. In July that figure had soared 356.4 percent to 3,801,822.

In the political arena, women hold seven of Baghdad's top 40 ministerial positions. While Iraq is more than 17.5 percent female, this is impressive political involvement for women in the world's most sexist region. Among others, women run Iraq's ministries of communications, environment, public works and human rights.

America's National Democratic Institute (a global outreach organization) last month trained 208 members of 70 political parties and 10 NGOs from across Iraq. They studied U.S.-style campaign skills including knocking on doors, canvassing petitions and organizing rallies. In another workshop, activists learned how to promote their parties' agendas on TV during two-minute and even 30-second sound bites.

Here's hoping all that training is including some basic instruction on things like objective news reporting and honest political campaigning.

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