Just The Facts

Recently, I was taken to task by a person who commented at The Naked Truth. I was called a kool aid drinker based upon some errant belief that I just blindly gave information that was spoon fed to me. Little does the commenter know that I am actually educated and can read. In addition, my business and military service put me in touch with a number of people who are where the action is (or have been there). I made the case that a complete pull out from Iraq would result in our being seen as weak and would embolden the terrorists to conduct more attacks. This is what has happened since the time of the Carter Administration. America hit the snooze button every time the alarm sounded in the form of a new attack. I believe we we did not respond for two reasons. The administrations were largely democratic and they are very weak on national defense. Also, the targets were mostly military and the left generally does not really concern itself with these matters. The military overwhelmingly supports the conservatives so why bother with them (unless you are trying to disenfranchise them during elections). So part of the comment was:

Here are the facts, beyond the loss of life and the wasted tax dollars:

dog, since your big focus is on schools, lets see what those facts are: UNICEF estimates that more than 200 schools were destroyed in the conflict and thousands more were looted in the chaos following the US invasion and occupation. The State Department reported on September 15th that “Significant obstacles remain in maintaining security for civilian/military reconstruction, logistical support and distribution for donations, equipment, textbooks and supplies.”

As Surfside pointed out in the comment string, many schools were used by the terrorists to store weapons and to fight from. If schools were damaged it is because they lost their Geneva protection when they were used for war. Let us actually look at what the truth is about the schools. BTW, I mentioned the schools to point out that we are doing good things there but that point escaped the writer.

The World Bank recently issued their largest grant in 30 years to the Iraqi Ministry of Education. This grant – which will not have to be repaid like World Bank loans – provides $40 million to print and distribute 72 million new textbooks for the 2004/2005 school year. There will be 600 titles available for the six million primary and secondary school children across Iraq. This generous grant from the World Bank is one more example of the international community pulling together to support a new Iraq.

Looks like at least the distribution of money and books will take place and at no cost to Iraq. As far as obstacles, perhaps when the Iraqis take charge of their security they will be able to provide better security of the schools. And here are the major accomplishments of USAID:

  • 2,510 schools have been rehabilitated through direct contracting and grants to communities.
  • Hundreds of thousands of desks, chairs, cabinets, chalkboards, and kits for primary and secondary schools have been distributed countrywide.
  • 32,700 secondary school teachers and administrators, including 928 master trainers, have been trained nationwide. Over the next year, up to 100,000 additional teachers will receive in-service training.
  • Eighty-four primary and secondary schools (four in each governorate) are being established to serve as “centers of excellence.” Teachers will receive six weeks of training, and schools will be equipped with computer and science laboratories.
  • More than 550 out-of-school youth completed a pilot accelerated learning program. An expanded program, targeting 50,000 out-of-school youth , will be implemented during the 2005–06 school year.
  • Satellite Internet access and computers installed at the Ministry of Education and in all 21 Directorates of Education. To improve resource management, an Education Management Information System is being developed.
  • More than 8.7 million math and science textbooks have been edited, printed, and distributed throughout Iraq.
  • Partnerships have been established between five American and 10 Iraqi universities. Through these partnerships, more than 1,500 Iraqi faculty and students have participated in workshops, trainings, conferences, and courses in Iraq, the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.
  • University facilities, such as libraries, computer and science laboratories, lecture halls, and buildings, have been rehabilitated at colleges of law, engineering, medicine, archeology, and agriculture. In addition, books and electronic resources have been provided to university libraries.

My oh my, it sure looks like there is trouble with that aspect of the rebuilding. The Iraqi kids will have good schools with modern equipment and if things go right terrorists will not use them as armories. And now let us look at another assertion:

What’s the point of school anyway: Iraqi joblessness doubled from 30 percent before the war to 60 percent in the summer of 2003

This is purely designed to give a false impression. Let us look at a few things first. The unemployment rate in Iraq was 30%, as pointed out by the writer. This is a guess anyway because it is hard to know what was going on there. Hussein had a large number of people in jail and killed many others. Those remaining were accounted for by his government. You know, people like Baghdad Bob and his “the US is not invading and is not in Baghdad.” He was probably screaming that while the US warfighters were carting him off. Anyway, when we went to war all kinds of business stopped and there were people thrown into unemployment. The rate in June 2003 was indeed 50-60%. It has dropped since that time and is now 25-30%. I know that is not great but it is right where they were before the war. How do they rank with others? Well, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, South Africa, Martinique, West Bank, Guadeloupe, Honduras, Armenia, Libya, Cameroon, Serbia & Montenegro, and Equatorial Guinea are all within that range. You know what they all, excluding Iraq, have in common? The US did not invade them. So since the Iraqi unemployment rate is on par with its past and with many other countries in the world maybe we are not the reason for the problem. So what else does our uninformed commenter have to say?

How about the war on terra? Not so good, either: Terrorism is increasing: According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, al Qaeda’s membership is now at 18,000, with 1,000 active in Iraq. The State Department’s 2003 “Patterns of Global Terrorism,” documented 625 deaths and 3,646 injuries due to terrorist attacks in 2003. The report acknowledged that “significant incidents,” increased from 60 percent of total attacks in 2002 to 84 percent in 2003.

I don’t really know how this person knows the strength of al Qaeda. If he knows it perhaps he would not mind sharing who they are so we can take them out. I know we keep killing a bunch of them and we keep capturing a lot more. It is true that the clerics and mullahs are actively recruiting during worship services and there are no doubt people who will heed the call. When you come from countries where people are so oppressively poor they will do about anything to get money for their family and earn a few virgins along the way (the left will say that is our fault). I know the insurgency has increased and estimates put the number at 10-20 thousand. Certainly there will be these factions that branch out and fight to resist change for their misguided ideals. The will of the country will prevail and these factions will die off. One last bit of misinformation from the uninformed commenter:

How about the peopel[sic] Bush is using in his war? The troops are not being supported: About 64 percent of the more than 7,000 U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq received wounds that prevented them from returning to duty. One trend has been an increase in amputees, the result of improved body armor that protects vital organs but not extremities. As in previous wars, many soldiers are likely to have received ailments that will not be detected for years to come. The Veterans Administration healthcare system is not prepared for the swelling number of claims. In May, the House of Representatives approved funding for FY 2005 that is $2.6 billion less than needed, according to veterans’ groups.

To indicate that because soldiers are injured and can not return to duty as evidence of not being taken care of is a stretch. There are a number of amputees as there are in any war where explosives are used. Unless this person knows of some other type of armor then this will continue to be a problem. The wounded are taken to military hospitals and given some of the best care around. I personally know many of these care givers and you could not ask for more dedicated, skilled people. As for the cost of veteran’s care, this has been an issue for years. The VA is never appropriately funded and as veterans live longer the cost will continue to rise. I have not heard of any veterans being denied health care because of funding. Once again, unless there is some magic armor I do not know what the writer expects. We have the best trained and best equipped military in the world. It is important though to remember that HUMMERS were not designed for combat. They are utility vehicles and we have had to uparmor them to increase their survivability. They were not designed to carry the extra weight so break downs are more common. Perhaps if Clinton had not cut our combat divisions in half we might have more armored vehicles for the fight. I guess somehow, it is Bush’s fault that Clinton left the military in disrepair.

So folks, there you have it. A blow by blow of the major items in the comment. There was one other part about how all the money spent would pay for fire trucks, schools, health care and a plethora of other things. While I feel that would be a great thing to have for America one can conclude that money spent on military action is allowed by the Constitution in the defense of our country. I can not find where we are supposed to do all the other things. As nice as it would be, let’s make sure we are safe first, we take out all the bad guys second, and then we can work on the rest. We can have a social program rant in another post.

Many thanks to Surfside who did the leg work in getting the information for me. You can find all the information I talked about in the following links:
Brookings Institute Iraq Study
Iraq Country Analysis
CIA Fact Book-Iraq
CIA Fact Book-Saudi Arabia
White House Press Release, World Bank

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