This New York Post op-ed is an antidote to the constant bleating from the western press that life in Iraq is worse than it was under Hussein. Yes, the press is quick to point out that there is no more of Hussein's heavy-handed tactics, but they always manage to follow up with a list of shortcomings.
Power Outagesfrom the article:
Much is made of power cuts, especially in Baghdad. But this is partly due to a 30 percent seasonal increase in demand because of air-conditioning use in temperatures that reach 115 degrees. In other cities - for example, Basra - the country's second-most populous urban center, more electricity is used than at any time under Saddam Hussein.
Food Shortagesfrom the article:
There is no famine - in fact, the bazaars are more replenished with food than ever since the late 1970s - while food prices, having jumped in the first weeks after liberation, are now lower than they were in the last years of Saddam's rule.
Medical Crisesfrom the article:
MOST hospitals are functioning again with essential medical supplies trickling in for the first time since 1999. Also, some 85 percent of primary and secondary schools and all but two of the nation's universities have reopened with a full turnout of pupils and teachers.
Refugeesfrom the article:
There has been no mass exodus anywhere in Iraq. On the contrary, many Iraqis, driven out of their homes by Saddam, are returning to their towns and villages.
Their return has given the building industry, moribund in the last years of Saddam, a boost. Iraqi exiles and refugees abroad are also coming home, many from Iran and Turkey. Last month alone the Iranian Red Crescent recorded the repatriation of more than 10,000 Iraqis, mostly Kurds and Shiites.
In Iraq today there are no "displaced persons," no uprooted communities and no long lines of war victims in search of a safe haven.
Attacks on American troopsfrom the article:
Another fact is that the violence we have witnessed, especially against American troops, in the past six weeks is limited to less than 1 percent of the Iraqi territory, in the so-called "Sunni Triangle," which includes parts of Baghdad.
In fact, the Iraqis realize that the American-led coalition is really a liberation force, and even imams who were preaching about pushing out the invaders have switched their rhetoric to encourage cooperation with the nation-building efforts now underway.
In the early days of the liberation, some mosque preachers tested the waters by speaking against "occupation." They soon realized that their congregations had a different idea. Today, the main theme in sermons at the mosques is about a partnership between the Iraqi people and the coalition to rebuild the war-shattered country and put it on the path of democracy.
Even the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr now says that "some good" could come out of the coalition's presence in Iraq. "The coalition must help us stabilize the situation," he says. "The healing period that we need would not be possible if we are suddenly left alone."
Cellphones, satellite TV, and a booming free press (more than 100 new newspapers since Hussein's fall)all are contributing to a free and open Iraq. This is what we'd like to see in ALL of the Middle East. If Iraq can do it, what's to stop Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, and all the rest?
(UPDATE18July/2:25PMJim Miller has more on this, including a link to a poll with some revealing results.)