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The future of Iraq
By Samuel L. Blumenfeld
Despite all of the car bombings and religious restlessness, the future of Iraq looks brighter than one would think. Of course, you wouldn't know it from what you read in the U.S. media or hear on BBC with their tales of terror, mayhem, and "quagmire." True, the old Ba'athists and Saddam loyalists, aided by the influx of international terrorists, are doing all in their power to force the coalition occupiers out so that they can restore their gangster reign of terror over the Iraqi people.
But President Bush has made it clear that we are in Iraq for the long haul. We will not leave until a democratic Iraq is established on a firm foundation of freedom and the rule of law. And, who knows, when that time finally comes we may decide to maintain a permanent military base in that country. After all, fifty years after World War II, we are still in Germany, and Ted Kennedy hasn't said anything about an "exit strategy."
The recent Zogby survey of Iraqi opinion leaves no doubt that the Iraqi people want their country to be more like the United States than any of the other Muslim states in the Middle East. And their view of the future is clearly long range. The survey states that Iraqis are optimistic about the future and expect their lives to be much better five years from now. And they don't want the U.S. to leave until the job of cleaning up Saddam's loyalists is completed.
By then, of course, the United States will have restored and greatly improved the basic infrastructure of the country. Oil production will be secured and expanded in order to pay for the country's development.
Meanwhile, the Iraqis are having a great time enjoying their freedom. Satellite dishes are selling like hotcakes. Government workers paid in U.S. dollars have created a consumer-driven boom in Baghdad's economy. Shops and restaurants are doing quite well. There is even an Internet café in Baghdad.
And there is now a thriving free press, about which our media remains silent. How are these newspapers reporting local and foreign news now that they have access to the world? How do they report Bush's speeches? What do their letters to the editor say? What kind of columnists do they have? Not a word about any of this in our much vaunted free American media. The Iraqis are going to have cell phones in a short time, which is really going to bring them into the 21st century. And in a few months all of the currency with Saddam's picture on it will be removed and replaced with brand new freedom money. The Iraqis are quite happy about that.
And what about the schools and the university? They are now all up and running, but our media hasn't told us if the curriculum has been changed. Have new textbooks been published? Are they learning about our Declaration of Independence, or our Constitution? How do the students see their future? Have the pro-Saddam professors been removed? Not a word about any of this in our media.
While more than 14,000 of the elderly in France perished during last summer's heat wave because of the scandalous inadequacies of French socialized medicine, no one died of the heat in Baghdad even though it was hotter than in France. In fact, the only really bad news coming out of Iraq were the sporadic killings of our soldiers, and the suicide bombers who took out the UN headquarters, the Jordanian Embassy, a police station, the outside of a hotel, the entrance to the Turkish embassy and other soft targets. In fact, the death rate in all of these bombings has been lower than in Israel where one suicide bomber kills and maims over 20 people in one bus or restaurant. The Iraqis are simply experiencing what the Israelis have been living with for years, and we don't find Ted Kennedy raising a fuss over what is going on in Israel, which is the size of Connecticut.
With Iraq the size of California, the bombings there are hardly noticed outside of the few troubled areas. And while Teddy blames Bush for the deaths of American service men, and has called for an exit strategy, there were eight shootings in Boston in one weekend, which the Senator hardly noticed.
It's the liberal media which gives the impression that all of Iraq is in a state of permanent upheaval, that most Iraqis want the occupiers out, and that we are in a quagmire. But according to the survey, they don't want us out. They want us to stay, because they know what would happen should the Ba'athists and Saddam loyalists return to power. It would turn Iraq into a living hell.
What is actually taking place in Iraq is a great experiment to see if the people there can build a new society based on Western principles of free self-government. They have the natural resources to make Iraq a very rich country. It can also become a great tourist attraction. It sits in a region known to be the cradle of civilization. Thus, it need not be at odds with Western civilization. There need not be a clash of civilizations in this heart of the Muslim world. Indeed, with an enduring Iraqi-American friendship, there can be a wonderful meeting and conciliation of the two.
Is this too optimistic a picture? It may seem so in the light of what we read in the media. But what we are doing in Iraq is original and unprecedented, and it requires courage, imagination, and vision to make this great dream a reality.
Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education, including, "Alpha-Phonics: A Primer for Beginning Readers," "The Whole Language/OBE Fraud," and "Homeschooling: A Parents Guide to Teaching Children." These books are available on Amazon.com.
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