Monday, November 08, 2004

Iraq Reconstruction Update

As I type, the initial stages of the much anticipated assault on the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah have already occurred. This difficult and potentially horrific battle will dominate the week's news from Iraq. I pray for the safety and success of our forces and their Iraqi allies, and for the safety of any innocent civilians still in the city. Crushing the enemy in Fallujah is a necessity if we are to succeed in Iraq.

With most of the media attention focused on Fallujah, and on this past weekend's wave of terrorist atrocities, it is easy to forget that the reconstruction of Iraq's economy and society continues. Fortunately, Arthur Chrenkoff has published another of his biweekly updates:

Black and White and Red All Over?

I realize that rebuilding schools, hospitals, and electrical infrastructure might seem irrelevant in the midst of suicide bombings and urban combat. It is important to realize, however, that such reconstruction efforts are an essential part of the campaign against the insurgency. As the New York Times reported on October 31:

Senior military officers say they are under no illusion that military might alone will resolve Iraq's problems. At best, using force to retake rebel-held cities will help establish an environment secure enough to allow political and economic programs that will ultimately defeat the insurgency, they say.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, compares the priorities in Iraq to two giant locomotive engines, one generating new Iraqi security forces, the other producing reconstruction gains, aides say. The two are intended to generate "irreversible momentum" that demonstrates to Iraqis and to the American public that steady progress, even if sometimes halting is being made.

Each morning General Casey's command briefing includes a slide called "Drumbeat," a detailed compilation of progress made in security, governance and the economy. No accomplishment is too minor for mention, from the opening of a new hospital to the signing of contracts for water projects. General Casey presses his commanders to show that reconstruction projects are under way and "turning dirt," and not just on the books. Right now there are about 700 such projects, with 1,800 scheduled to be under way by year's end, officers said.


The broader context, senior officers and embassy officials say, is for the United States to stay the course and be patient, with the aim of restoring local control to Iraqis and helping to rebuild the security forces and the economy.

Every bit of progress towards building a new Iraq brings the Islamists and Baathists that much closer to defeat, which explains their increasingly vicious campaign of terrorism designed to halt the reconstruction process. They seek to create the sense among the American people that Iraq is in a state of hopeless chaos, and that withdrawal is the only option. We must not allow ourselves to be stampeded. America is the most powerful nation in world history. If we simply show the patience and resolve necessary to apply our military and economic power in an effective manner, the Baathists and Islamists will be defeated and America and the world will be better off for it.


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