Ignorance on Iraq

Over at The Corner, Rich Lowry points us to another recent article of a Democrat forced to admit that some progress may be being made in Iraq.

However the best fun in the article comes in the final paragraphs. One of the featured Dem's previous primary opponents had this to say about Iraq:
Cheryl Crist of Olympia, who lost the Democratic primary against Baird in 2004 running on an anti-war platform, said the military presence in Iraq is adding to the problem.

"We do owe them something — reparations and help," Crist said of the U.S. obligation to Iraqis. "But we are not good at delivering that through the military."
It strikes me that the Dems might be able to make better arguments about the Iraq situation, if they weren't so friggin' ignorant about what is going on there. Obviously Ms. Crist has never bothered to get out of the great liberal echo chamber of the Pacific Northwest, and cannot get by her belief that military is only capable of evil and destruction.

Who would she rather have 'deliver' what we 'owe' them? The State Department? USAID? The UN? The EU? The Peace Corps? The Arab League? Um, no. Ms. Crist is delusional. If she thinks that anyone can deliver aid better than the military, she better start citing some examples.

In the meantime, perhaps she should read up on a little thing called the "Commander's Emergency Response Program". Millions and millions of dollars (mostly Saddam's seized monies) were distributed by the...*gasp*...military, to help kick start reconstruction projects.
"The Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) is helping to win trust and promote civil infrastructures in Iraq and Afghanistan....CERP originated as a stabilizing tool that commanders could use to benefit the Iraqi people. Initial resources came from millions of dollars of ill-gotten Ba’athist Party cash discovered by U.S. forces. This loot, along with the other regime assets, funded a variety of emergency projects.

From early June to mid-October 2003, Iraqis benefited from the seized funds entrusted to commanders. More than 11,000 projects were completed, resulting in the purchase of $78.6 million in goods and services, mostly from local sources.

Thousands in Baghdad received a daily wage to clean streets, alleys, buildings, and public spaces, far exceeding what U.S. forces alone could do. Iraqis repaired and installed hundreds of small generators in municipal buildings—many confiscated from abandoned Ba’athist buildings and villas— enabling communities to resume basic functions despite slow progress on the electrical grid. Hundreds of air conditioners were installed, providing relief from high temperatures, cooling hot tempers, and permitting clear thinking on problems of self-governance. Dozens of jails and police stations were repaired, facilitating public order and creating more secure and humane conditions for detainees.

Similar projects were under way throughout the country. Over $6 million was spent on 999 water and sewage repair projects, providing clean water supplies and preventing the spread of dysentery, cholera, and other diseases. Bridge, road, and other reconstruction projects numbered 1,758 during the first 18 weeks of CERP and put nearly $13 million into nascent markets for building materials and labor. Over $1 million was spent on 188 projects that distributed humanitarian relief to places nongovernmental and international relief organizations could not reach. Another $450,000 enabled displaced Iraqis to go home and paid for transporting supplies and equipment. Expenditures to get governing councils, town officials, judges, and investigators operating totaled $4.7 million in 742 projects.

A dramatic CERP use occurred in northern Iraq, where 101st Airborne Division partnered with the civilian population. The division undertook over 3,600 CERP projects costing more than $28 million. It refurbished more than 400 schools and employed thousands of locals. The school projects complemented work by nongovernmental organizations and the CPA, enabling many children to return to class."

But if you don't like the word of a DoD publication, say if you are from the Pacific Northwest and think the military is evil, perhaps you might take the word of the Washington Post from right after the war:
"The speed and ease with which reconstruction money is being handed out by the military here contrasts sharply with the delays and controversy surrounding the handling of major reconstruction funds by the Pentagon and U.S. Agency for International Development....The money for most military projects in Iraq goes through something called the commander's emergency response program. About $100 million has been allocated so far and the 101st Airborne Division, which oversees northern Iraq, has spent about $31 million of it. It has been used, officials said, for more than 11,000 projects such as hiring a civil defense corps, patching roads and fixing an oil refinery and a sulfur plant.

It's a new idea that has allowed soldiers who are patrolling the streets, and have a ground-level view of people's needs, to make a quick impact without having to go through the bureaucratic details that government contracts usually require.

Almost all the money is given to Iraqis, while other reconstruction funds -- about $3 billion so far -- have gone almost exclusively to American companies, which may or may not subcontract with Iraqi companies.

Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the 101st, said the money has been critical to keeping people employed and providing tangible evidence the occupation powers are helping the populace -- which he believes keeps his soldiers safer.

"Money is the most powerful ammunition we have," Petraeus said in an interview."
Gee, who was that mystery commander quoted in there. I wonder whatever happened to him.....

But if even that endorsement is to militaristic for your sensitive liberal sensibilities, perhaps you might take the word of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction:
Perhaps the brightest spot in Iraq reconstruction is the role of U.S. commanders. They were given huge sums of cash — nearly $2 billion — to fund public works projects in such places as Sadr City, the Shi'ite slum in Baghdad. The initiative, the Commander's Emergency Response Program, was started by L. Paul Bremer, who was U.S. administrator in Iraq.

"Our audits show that these represent the most successful programs and, indeed, mind- and heart-changing programs in Iraq," Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told Congress. "They meet the Iraqi needs at the ground level, which is what's happening now through the provincial reconstruction and development councils and the provincial reconstruction teams."
The reports of the SIGIR can be found here.

Perhaps Ms. Crist should expend a little energy and Google a few things, so that she may unburden herself of her ignorance, and perhaps see the military in a new light. Then she could tell ten friends....

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