How's Iraq These Days?

Apparently, things are getting better. But, better is a comparative word. The comparison would be to when there were bombs weighing thousands of pounds being dropped and a complete lack of running water, sewage processing, and electricity. Now there’re runnning water, electricity and sewage processing in many parts of Iraq most of the time and smaller bombs going off.

Apparently, somewhere near 70% of Iraqi expect things to be better in the next five years. But yet again, there’s that ‘better’ word. It’s only relative to something else. It’s the same as saying that 70% of Iraqis think that things are as bad off as they’re going to get for the next five years, and 20% think that the worst is yet to come in the next five years. But, this really only addresses the expectations of the future.

Here are some numbers from the same Zogby poll:

Defense Department officials have come out recently saying that Rumsfeld pubic assessment of who the Iraqi resistance fighters are is as flawed as Rumsfeld’s assessment of whether or not a guerrilla war was underway.

The State Dept has issued this .pdf about some of the regular everyday things that Iraqis can once again enjoy:
the less densely populated areas of Iraq are ‘secure’;
there’re police patrolling in some areas;
90% of schools are open;
hospitals and clinics are providing services;
Iraqs can buy satellite dishes;
children can be vaccinated against some deadly diseases.

The question again is one of comparison. This is certainly better than when these things weren’t possible, but how good are things compared to what is expected?

Hey, I like the wording :smiley: Let’s expand the meaning without adding contradictions to the original phrases (of course, everything in italics is mine and totally “invented”).

the less densely populated areas of Iraq are ‘secure’; cute how they put the word ‘secure’ in quotes

there’re police patrolling in some areas; Some areas??? do they mean, that there are two or three streets close to the military bases where police officer collaborating with the US are not shot?

90% of schools are open; open? anybody going to school? are the kids getting there safely?

hospitals and clinics are providing services; which services? Equipment?

Iraqs can buy satellite dishes; if they had the money. If they had the money, the could also buy SUVs and yachts

children can be vaccinated against some deadly diseases. funny, ‘can be vaccinated’ not ‘are vaccinated’

The short version is that certainly the Iraqis aren’t dying as much. Without getting a massive list of citations, Saddam had been killing his people, through both malicious actiosn and malicious neglect, for years. That’s stopped. According to his own figures and those of the UN, over 5,000 children were dying of starvation (that’s not even going into the rest of it) each month in Iraq. That has stopped, along with the murders and so forth.

So, while there are currently problems, they are presently not as bad as the alternative.

I put the quotes there.

I wondered this as well. Given politicians tendencies to “not-lie” we’re obligated to wonder.

I’m an international aid worker in Iraq. I just want to comment on what I have seen first hand:

The level of security varies wildly from place to place. There are places I feel comfortable walking around and where something close to normal life is going on. There are other places where I am scared sh*tless the whole time I am there.

I am working on an education project and have been to a lot of schools. Where I am now, school doesn’t start until the 24th. I think we’ll see 70-80% attendance for boys, less for girls. As the school year progresses we’ll probably see an increase in attendance. It will be higher in some areas and lower in others. Of course, one bad security incident could stop all of it.

My rough thumbnail sketch of Iraqi’s feelings about the occupation are that roughly 1/3 are absolutely opposed, 1/3 are thrilled (this includes the Kurds), and 1/3 are ambivalent.

It is this 1/3 on the fence that we have to court. Many of them are uncomfortable with a US occupation, and would prefer a UN presence. A UN occupation would look less like a colonial occupation and would give the process more legitimacy in their eyes. I think this is precisely why the UN was attacked on the 19th and again yesterday. I believe the Saddamists know that if the UN comes in, a lot of their support would melt away.

A factor that isn’t given much attention in the press is how unpredictable life has become for the average Iraqi. Life under Saddam was very hard, of course, but there was still a large degree of predictability: granpa got his pension, mom got her prescriptions, and you could go to the corner store after dark.

In my experience, the uncertainty of transition, particularly for people traumatized by life under a totalitarian regime force them to embrace traditional beliefs and reinforces ethnic identities. This can erode any attempt to forge a multi-ethnic society based on mutual trust and cooperation.

Hopefully, now that the summer is over, the occupation has some breathing room to get services up and running, but I’m afraid the window to do so is quickly closing.

A massive list might be overdoing it. None at all doesn’t cut it. Produce some cites, particularly for this bit:

Thank you very much for your comments. I hope that you’re induced to sharing more of your observations. I love to hear from people who’re actually there.

Yes, by all means, madmonk28, thanks for your observations and I hope you continue helping us out here. Factual, reliable information from the ground is sorely lacking here, even from (and especially from) the mass media. They only seem to talk to the officials secure in their compounds, and to each other over drinks, and make broad and siimplistic pronouncements on that basis alone. But at hardly any time do we hear anything about what the Iraqi people themselves are actually thinking - yet that’s pretty much all that matters.

One thing I’ve noticed every time I see footage of Baghdad is that it is all shot on the streets in front of the Sheraton and Palestine hotels. If you start paying attention, you’ll see they hardly ever venture more than a block from where they are staying. If your really paying attention you’ll notice they keep showing the same traffic circle again and again. It was where the Saddam stature was pulled down during the war and is right next to the hotels.

I’m in Mosul now, which is like being in a different country, much more relaxed, but I go back to Baghdad tomorrow. Even there, I move around the city, go to dinner at night, etc. I think the media makes it seem totally out of control, it’s tense, but it’s not a total shooting gallery.

Most nights, I hear firing and sometimes explosions, but it is amazing how soon you can get used to it.

I wasn’t in favor of the way this war was pursued, but I want to go on record that I have dealt with some really great civil affairs people in the military and the military people in general. I think back to what a screw up I was when I was 19-20 and I’m impresed with how most of them handle themselves.

My internet connection won’t be so great when I leave Mosul tomorrow so you might not hear from me for a few days. When I get back to the US, I was going to do a “ask the guy who was in Iraq thread (mid-Octoberish)”

Sorry I’m rambling but they have beer here in Mosul :slight_smile:

Yep in that sense the US has taken over from Saddam.  :)

Madmonk28 I am very interested in knowing how well the US military is going about doing “non-military” jobs. How hard was it adapting for the “new roles” ? Things like that.

Madmonk28 I am very interested in knowing how well the US military is going about doing “non-military” jobs. How hard was it adapting for the “new roles” ? Things like that.

I certainly have my criticism of the UN, but one thing they do well is lay a foundation for the international community. Because they weren’t substantially involved a lot of stuff was left undone.

For example: the military took a long time to establish a cell phone network and when they did it was only in Baghdad. It’s the kind of thing the UN knows to get up and running right away.

In general the military is being asked to do a lot of tasks that aren’t in it’s mandate and with mixed results. They do a great job of logistics, getting stuff moved and secured, but sometimes a guy in a flak jacket and helmet just can’t do the same job as someone in civvies.

Some of the young guys are not at all suited for this kind of work, these are people out of the US for the first time and they are getting shot at and they are scared. I run into guys who think that all Iraqis are the enemy and don’t understand that that attitude is a self fulfiling prophecy.

I’ve also met some military people who don’t understand the international community and how it works. People like this can be a real problem as they obstruct your work and then complain about lack of results.

It’s not that there are more jerks in the military than in another profession, but one jerk with an M-16 can cause a lot of headaches for everyone.

In general, I always get along with NCOs and junior officers in around 30 or so, very squared away and I instinctively like people who give a crap about something and are willing to work for it.

Try reading this link:

Very well put… truly a self fulfiling prophecy… better training and personell make all the difference.

As for the SunTzu link:

This guy contradicts himself… and plays into the french bashing himself. What is a few weeks compared to years of Saddam ? The US is part of the UN and had a great part in the fact that Saddam got into and stayed in power. To turn a blind eye to that and claim moral high ground isnt going to make the world better. Geopolitics is behind this… not stamping out evil.

I did. What’s your point?

Hussein’s regime was despicably evil in ways that most of us don’t like to imagine?
That was a given. Never been disputed. If the judge didn’t know this before the war he was blissfully ignorant.

I would like to address “According to his own figures and those of the UN, over 5,000 children were dying of starvation (that’s not even going into the rest of it) each month in Iraq.”

Those children died as a proven result of malnutrition and otherwise preventable childhood diseases caused by the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq. Prior to the sanctions and prior to the 1st Gulf War, Iraq had a relatively good record of health and healthcare COMPARED to the rest of the region.

I would like to see one bit of proof that childhood mortality rates in Iraq have not increased tremendously since this war started. I am convinced (as is the W.H.O.) that the combination of sanction-caused disease and DU poisoning and birth defect have contributed to tens if not hundreds of thousands of child deaths since the first DU campaigns in the 90’s.

News from the edge:

Featuring fairly prominent on the Danish left wing and formerly in the anti Iraq war peace movement are the two authors Hjalte Tin and Nina Rasmussen. Now seven months after having demonstrated against the war, and after travelling around Iraq for four months, they have a big change of heart. After seeing for themselves they’ve come to the conclusion that the media’s negative representation of the situation in Iraq in no way describe the reality they met while there. And further that “the war was correct”.

Further they report no material shortages. Actually quite the reverse; that much of Iraq, including Baghdad, after decades of forced austerity under the Bahhtist (where many imports were strictly forbidden or heavily taxed) are currently revelling in a major materialistically fuelled buying fest. The markets of Baghdad quite impressive, the largest they had seen anywhere (these guys have travelled around the globe for much of thirty years BTW). Also they find the terrorist acts, and anti-American sentiments, in no way represent the feelings of the common Iraqis, on the contrary that they (the Iraqis thought they were Americans) were heartly welcomed everywhere they went, naturally especially among the Kurds and in the South, but also in central Iraq and Baghdad, and they never felt threatened or insecure at day – though during the night there were widespread lawlessness.

Left wing newspaper

  • Rune

For those of you with a fast connection and Real Player you can look at an excellent docu that the BBC prog. Panorama showed last Sunday. The Price of Victory

So the riots in Basra over fuel shortages never really happened? Iraq’s not really importing deisel? There aren’t really anticipated heating fuel shortages this winter?

What a conspiracy.