It is important not to let down people who believe in the US as the defender of liberty and human rights. For this, new methods should be developed to communicate with the hearts of Muslims rather than their minds. Considering matters logically by people, in our part of the world, needs more time and hard work on education. So it is heart to be addressed not mind (take the shrine in Samara as an example).
One of these methods is to show progress on ground to the Iraqis. Some people mock the reconstruction process in Iraq by saying ‘Three years have passed under the administration of the super power No.1 in the world but nothing moving forward. God forbid, what would happen if it was some other less developed country?’ US is the economic leader, but look at the Iraqi situation. One may understand the time needed for transition from totalitarian state to something else; let’s hope it will be a democratic one. Though, it is not clear what prevents efforts from reconstructing certain sectors in Iraq.
I believe energy sector is the most vital one to motivate other fields. Setting aside electric power, oil production and export has gone down below that before 2003. Reconstructing oil fields and export facilities reduces the burden on the US budget. One of the richest fields in Iraq is near Basra. The production and exporting facilities are well protected. Still, after three years no progress in the level of production has been made. Someone might say ‘It is the Iraqi government to make the decision’. But one should be realistic; the Americans dominate the whole matters in Iraq, which is good to form equilibrium between different parties.
The disturbing news come from reports like this one. I do not have much knowledge about economy, but numbers like the following are so much for Iraq to make difference on ground:
"The Coalition Provisional Authority, which existed from shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003 until June 2004, was allocated more than $38 billion in U.S. and Iraqi funds. It spent $19.7 billion of U.N.-administered Iraqi oil money."
Comparing these numbers to that of Iran budget of 2004, which was less than $20 billion, it presumes that a small difference in reconstruction sector should be noticeable. Iran’s area and population is about triple that of Iraq (I’m not sure whether such comparison suitable or not).
A report by Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq reconstruction says:
"Much of the discrepancy stems from higher-than-expected costs to provide security for projects. The audit said roughly 16 percent to 22 percent of each project's budget went toward security…"
OK, let’s go higher, to 40 or 50 percent of each project’s budget to be allocated to security. Still, the remaining fund represents a number which can achieve wonderful things on ground for the given period of time.
The mission in Iraq is at a crossroads, either to quit it and accept the whole consequences or to go on. Outcome of the first choice is clear for the US people and nothing can be added. President Bush made it obvious:
"In my State of the Union, I said, we've got to reject isolationism. Isolationism is the tendency for a nation to withdraw and not feel an obligation to be involved in the world. And we cannot defend ourselves if we're isolationist."
Quitting the mission means failure. And failure is not an option as the National Strategy For Victory In Iraq, released by the National Security Council in November 2005, says:
"Failure is Not an Option:
• Iraq would become a safe haven from which terrorists could plan attacks against America, American interests abroad, and our allies.
• Middle East reformers would never again fully trust American assurances of support for democracy and human rights in the region – a historic opportunity lost.
• The resultant tribal and sectarian chaos would have major consequences for American security and interests in the region."
"If we retreat from Iraq, the terrorists will pursue us and our allies, expanding the fight to the rest of the region and to our own shores."
I believe that the second choice, not quitting, is the right one to make. At least, to respect and honor those who gave their lives for the sake of better future. It needs sacrifices of different kinds, and to minimize these sacrifices speeding up reconstruction is vital. Work & good per capita income yield stability; it needs more money to invest in reconstructing Iraq. Some people might say ‘Enough, no more US money to be spent in Iraq’, and they are absolutely right. Still, it means to keep bleeding of souls and money for a longer time than that of speeding up the process.
To be continued…