Monday, September 27, 2004

"Iraq: Not Quite as Bad as You Thought"

Time once again for Arthur Chrenkoff's superb biweekly roundup of the underreported progress that is being made in Iraq:

Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder

Arthur has taken some criticism for taking note of such things in the midst of the horrific violence that we see emphasized in the elite media. He has been accused of, in essence, glossing things over. Arthur's response is a call for perspective and understanding, based in part on his own experiences growing up in Eastern Europe:

(B)e patient; it takes time, not just because rebuilding a country ruined over three decades of war, oppression and isolation is never quick or easy, but also because the attitudes and ways of thinking acquired by people under dictatorship tend to linger and don't make transformation any easier.

My sentiments exactly. Chrenkoff wouldn't need to go out of his way to point out the "good news" if the media wasn't obsessed with the violence to the exclusion of everything else that is taking place. Does that mean that we shouldn't talk about the violence? Of course not. It is indeed a major part of the Iraq story, and sadly will probably get worse before it improves. The point is that reconstruction is also a major part of what is going on in Iraq, and the two cannot be separated. As Chrenkoff puts it in this week's update:

There are two Iraqs at the moment, both equally real and consequential. The Iraq of never-ending strife--the insurgency, terrorism, crime and all-too-slow reconstruction makes for interesting news stories and exciting footage. The Iraq of steady recovery, returning normalcy and a dash of hope rarely does.


Only by knowing both sides of the story you can make an informed judgment about how things in Iraq are really going.

It is easy to believe that talking about rebuilt schools, trade agreements, new sewer lines, and local elections in the midst of car bombs, mortar attacks, IEDs and assassinations is like "fiddling while Rome burns". This would be a mistake. It is precisely such reconstruction efforts that the jihadists, Baathists, and criminals are trying to stop with their atrocities. In essence, the struggle for Iraq is between hope and fear. The US and our coalition allies are seeking to help the Iraqi people build a prosperous, modern, democratic Iraq that offers its people a hopeful future. Such a task is difficult even in ideal circumstances. The terrorists are trying to destroy these efforts, to convince the Iraqi people, and us as well, that there is no hope for a better future, only death and chaos followed by an inevitable return to totalitarian barbarism of either the Baathist or Wahhabist variety. Anything that brings the Iraqi people hope for a better future, that gives them a stake in the new Iraq and encourages them to persevere, is important. The more progress we make, no matter how slow or fraught with difficulty, the closer the terrorists are to defeat.

The struggle for Iraq is a microcosm of the broader War with Islamist Terror. It is a battle between the Middle East of fear and fanaticism that spawned 9/11 and the Middle East of hope that will benefit the entire world. Despite all the terrible carnage wrought by the terrorists, hope continues to exist and progress continues to be made. Our heroic men and women in uniform, their coalition allies, and the Iraqi people themselves, have all sacrificed dearly for these gains. We must not allow their sacrifices to go in vain.


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