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Emanuel: Positive news easy to find in Iraq; it just isn't reported enough

| | Story updated at 9:58 PM on Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The specters of Haditha, Abu Ghraib, the Pendleton Seven and various other instances of alleged or actual misconduct by U.S. troops in Iraq have done great damage to the American people's faith in our military, its mission and its overall decency.

However, had the last three years of reporting on Iraq been proportional with regard to both good and bad news, these alleged instances of American wrongdoing would be seen for what they are: aberrations, committed by a tiny number of individuals in an overall honorable force. The lack of coverage afforded the positive side of postwar Iraq makes it necessary to point out those developments - developments which should not need to be finally brought to light this far down the road.

For example: It shouldn't have to be said the people of Iraq are living freer than they ever have, and that they are hopeful about their future. The Brookings Institution recently reported a January poll showing 64 percent of Iraqis think the country is headed in the right direction, and 77 percent believe removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do. Also according to the report, Iraq now ranks fourth on an index of political freedom for countries in the Middle East.

It shouldn't have to be said the United States has done an amazing job rebuilding - and, in many cases, improving - Iraq's infrastructure. Over 2,900 projects have been completed since May 2003, including building hospitals and cleaning up drinking water. Residents of Airport Village, for example, had sewage in their water due to low pressure; coalition soldiers worked with an Iraqi company to remedy the situation.

It shouldn't have to be said that electrical power generation and distribution is currently at a level 720 percent higher than in May 2003, and the U.S. Army has been training Iraqis to operate and maintain the nation's power systems.

It shouldn't have to be said that more than 3,000 schools have been rehabilitated, nine million new textbooks have been distributed, and 36,000 teachers have been trained, or that 315 of 317 school-building projects in northern Iraq have been completed by the coalition.

It shouldn't have to be said that Iraqis are now receiving excellent - and accessible - medical care, courtesy of the United States. Nearly 100 percent of Iraqi children have been vaccinated, and the military is conducting regular clinics, such as a dental care clinic recently provided by Army medics in Amu Shabi.

It shouldn't have to be said that Iraq's newly free economy is growing at a blistering pace. According to the U.S. State Department, Iraq's Gross Domestic Product is 130 percent greater, and oil export revenues are 300 percent greater, than what they were under Saddam. More than 30,000 new businesses have been registered in Iraq, and per capita income is now 240 percent higher than it was before the war; also, unemployment is 50 percent lower than in June 2003. Whereas there were virtually none under Saddam, Iraq now has more than 5 million cell-phone subscribers, 2,000 Internet cafes - and a free press.

It shouldn't have to be said that many of America's soldiers have gone far beyond the call of duty to help the Iraqi people. Army Lt. Brian Cyr, for example, began a shoe drive after seeing that many Iraqi children had none. The project became a wild success, with Cyr and 28 of his soldiers distributing over 3,000 pairs of donated shoes to local villagers.

Another example is Capt. Wendy Bernard, who participated in Operation Helping Hands, a project launched by her unit in Iraq which included school kit donations, dental hygiene programs, school rebuilding operations, involvement in a local women's union geared to the empowerment of local women and the subsequent improvement of their lives. "In essence, we have concentrated on the entire community and have found our work rewarding and gratifying, based on the smiles, hugs and kisses from the local children and adults," she wrote at the Web site

Most of all, it shouldn't have to be said that this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a staggering amount of good news from Iraq which has not been given the attention it deserves. Given the constant attention Abu Ghraib, Haditha and other incidents have received, it is vital that Americans be presented with the good news from Iraq, so that they can understand that the positives in that nation not only outweigh the bad, but that they do so overwhelmingly.

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran who served in Iraq, is a senior at the University of Georgia.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 072706

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At 8:17 PM, Blogger Preston Mintz said...

I like reading good that's why I avoid most every news channel. Nicely done Jeff!

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Preston Mintz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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