Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fables of the Reconstruction

As costs for reconstruction in Iraq begin to topple the $200 Billion mark, one must ask what this money has been spent on and what results have been noted. Several times thus far, I have noted that what you are fed through the corporate media is a limited and skewed view of Iraq. Primarily, the news reporters are spoon fed their news by military public affairs officers who boiled down numbers and events for easy consumption by the concerned but faint-hearted American citizen. These reporters have such little integrity that they rarely, if ever, venture outside their Baghdad hotels for their latest breaking story. Dressed up in flak jackets and kevlar helmets, they intimate the violence and danger they must forego to bring us the news. Let's be clear on this from the start, Baghdad is NOT Iraq and Iraq is not Baghdad. The media has successfully convinced the Dancing-with-a-Star loving American viewer that Iraq is a homogenous and violent country. Wrong.

One can successfully break down the situation in Iraq into two parts; Baghdad and rural Iraq. Of course this is a bit oversimplified since there are a few larger cities that are strongholds for insurgents, but in general this division holds true for analysis. Baghdad is a fairly modern city structurally. During the toppling of Hussein, much of Baghdad suffered destruction in the form of communication, electrical, and water breakdown. Buildings were destroyed and roads tore up. Much of the residential areas remained relatively intact but did not escape the attack unscathed. Because of this, the economy was also completely disrupted; leaving people out of jobs, devalued money, disrupting life-support industries such as food and medical services. Obviously, there is a lot of fodder for a fearful reporter to regurgitate as progress in reconstruction. But what about the rest of rural Iraq?

Rural Iraq is unequivocally unlike Baghdad. Most people live in humble mud or brick homes, eeking out a subsistence by herding goats, sheep, or the occaisional cow. Most towns east and north of Baghdad are full of beat up, barely running cars, donkeys, and bicycles for transportation. It is hard to see any evidence of desctruction caused by our troops moving toward Baghdad, or any since. Mostly what is seen are the craters produced by the occaisional detonation of IEDs along roadsides and bridges. There are rarely organized conflicts with insurgents, or any small arms fire from hostiles. Most people go about their days just trying to get by.

In Baghdad, infrastructure indeed existed before the invasion, so it is obvious that Reconstruction would and should include the replacement of said infrastructure; power plants, water processing plants, road rebuilding, building construction, etc. But it is not so easy to decide what should be done with the rural areas that never had such infrastructure in the first place. Because of the collapse of the economy, many rural Iraqis farm or herd for a subsistence and then trade or try to sell what extra they have. But there is no industry to produce a product and thus bring money into an empty economy. With that in mind, on my latest convoy I was able to finally notice some change in the barren landscape. In the emptiness of eastern Iraq, towers to run power lines have been planted, roads have been crudely repaved, irrigation canals are flowing with water.

The question here is twofold. On one hand, what goals for "reconstruction" could be in place for areas that have never had this infrastructure previously. How far should the development of rural Iraq be taken and to satisfy what need? Secondly, on an economic level, how has it been considered that the average jobless subsistence farmer/herder should be able to pay for this electricity, which has now been brought to the front door of his mud home? To power the electric items that he doesn't yet have? Is this just another thinly veiled attempt at subjugating another country to be forced consumers? Are we building them up for exploitation?

24 Comments:

Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

The main goal in Iraq is to gain control, of the secound largest oil reserve in the world, by removing a person no longer of use to the United States.

The exploitation you mention is the follow up, to a program of US beligerance, that does not tolerate opposition.

A program that has alienated countries that once were counted amongst it's friends and allies, France, Germany, Belgium, Canada, to name a few.

So, what is the US to do? If the US is lucky it will find some way to get out, just as it did in Vietnam.

It will probably do both the United States and the rest of the world a good deal of good, if the US simply leaves and admits it's mistake. Perhaps, the US will learn a little better the costs of invading another country, as Dorman has pointed out.

Dorman, do you think that it will become US policy to take up your proposed solution, of "killing all the bad ones"?

So, how exactly do you plan for killing all the bad ones, when you seem relunctant to give a number on how many "bad ones there are"?

Something about planning comes to mind. Isn't that much of the criticism of the current mode of operation in Iraq?

19:19  
Blogger mattandriver said...

apov,

If we were wrong to go into Iraq in the first place, and I admit that may be true, it would be wrong to just pack un and leave now. That made things worse back when I was over there.

19:35  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Ugh. First of all, I want to make a blanket statement that this is why I was an English major...no math skills. You put that many numbers in front of me at once, and I get all cross-eyed. Unless I'm told that's my shoe-shopping budget, then it's a whole new ballgame (ya with me on that one Carnealian???).

I saw $10 billion, then $500 billion and thought well, heck, I'm not good at math, but even I know that $10-$500 of anything isn't the kind of estimate that would fly with my boss. But OK, we're talking about two totally different things. 1) Reconstruction of Iraq and 2) Maintaining Military Presence in Iraq. Except that they're not mutually exclusive. They're totally intertwined. To achieve 1 you've got to have 2. So, the total cost of rebuilding the country should include the cost of the military needed to accomplish that goal. I guess by separating the two numbers, it's supposed to make them easier to swallow?

Even by not rebuilding anything, we've got way more invested than we should in that little sand hole just by 'keeping the peace'.

The infrastructure wasn't crumbling, but if it hasn't been touched since the 70's, well, why are we paying to rebuild plus give them an upgrade? They don't need fancy. They need basic. It's like giving a 16 year old the keys to a brand new Beamer, when all they need is a Ford. Here's a question for you Dorman. Who is it exactly that's doing the work. I mean, I know Halliburton has everthing subcontracted from powerline towers to toilet paper, but who is doing the actual physical labor? Are Iraqis being hired to lay the roads? Are we training them to do it once, then training them how to maintain it? I know Sergeant gets your whites whiter, but does he have the option to mix and pour the concrete to rebuild his country?

For rural Iraq, they should be provided with basic sanitation, clean water, and schools. If cooking over a fire and reading by a kerosene lamp is getting them by and has been for since before we got there, they don't need it now. Mud huts and electric can openers? Doesn't make sense. The lonely goat-herder doesn't need HGTV.

If our goal is to just take their gas and make them buy our crap, then someone needs to revise the marketing plan and make that clear instead of dancing around it.

19:38  
Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

md, agreed just running is not always the best thing to do. But, one way or another, the longer the US stays in Iraq the more the billions and billions of dollars will keep literally going up in smoke, to say nothing of the lives lost in a questionable war, at best. But, it it's your dollars, it would be interesting to know what percentage of your tax dollars go to this war. That's got to be a great google question.

19:48  
Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

On top of the costs, there is also a need to ask what will be achieved with that cost.

In the end, it will Iran which will come to influence Iraq, not the USA.

In the end, the United States has given Iraq to Iran on a silver platter.

Dorman, any thoughts on the end scenario?

19:52  
Blogger mattandriver said...

D,
So you believe we are ‘rebuilding’ too much and improving areas that were not damaged by our rude interruption into the daily life of an Iraqi. Maybe the strategy is to improve these areas to better conditions than what was before and you just have not seen the final ‘product’. Sometimes it is hard to fathom what something will look like when it is a work in progress.

On the other hand, I would not be surprised if this was some twisted politicians on board with the project that somehow are receiving subsidy from the U.S. corporations(s) working there. I heard some wind of this.

19:55  
Blogger mattandriver said...

Side note: (sorry)
D,
I am working on getting some space for you but if you hog my bandwidth, I will have to kill you. After you enjoy the wings and beeeeeeeer!

22:01  
Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

D:

Do you believe that the invasion of Iraq was valid?

If so why was it valid?

If you have answered these questions before could you point me to your posts?

10:49  
Blogger Dorman said...

No, I don't believe the invasion was valid beyond the violation of UN resolutions to accurately disclose information. Iraq has/had no connection to bin Laden nor 9/11. I believe the ousting of Saddam was done for purely OPEC reasons.
Then we splash a thin veneer of humanitarianism on it for public approval and roll forward. So Saddam treated some of his population badly, mass murders were stopped after the first Gulf War. Look at how our own gov't treats large parts of its citizens. Let'
s hope Canada doesn't get a conscience like we had and invade us to rescue the homeless from oppression.

Much of the reconstruction is handled by US contractors, all political buddies that work at a snail's pace for exhorbitant prices. $85,000 a year goes to the girl that hands out towels at our gym. Plus they are 'reconstructing' such necessary infrastructure as high-speed wireless internet access on FOB Speicher. Not Baghdad,not even anything Iraqi, our own bases being built up and called 'Commercializatiion'. Sure regularly there are posters put up of soldiers helping put a well pump in a local village, but why the hell are we doing that work? We kill and break things, not humanitarians. Someone else is supposed to be getting paid big money to do those things.

23:33  
Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

Bravo, Dorman.

Thanks for the clarification of your position on the invasion of the Iraq war.

Your position against Islam, had suggested that you might have supported this war.

You may have stated elsewhere in your Blog, but did you volounteer for Iraq? Of did you just volounteer to join the army?

I seem to recall reading at one time that you had had a successful business, but that you had wanted to do something for your country. Though, I am not certain if you did so on the premise of aiding the invasion in Iraq.

Thanks, for taking the time to answer these questions. It is good to know at least we agree on these latter points.

10:16  
Blogger Dorman said...

The invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with me joining the army. Yes, part of my reason was to help eliminate the scourge of Islam from the nface of the earth, and it still is. I just have been focusing more on eliminating the sympathetic minds that allow its insidious spread.

The war here has little to do with islam. At this point it has little to do with anything apparently. I can't even tell you what the reason is we are still here, the Army has not issued any statement to us troops as to our purpose besides securing the country for the new government. Whatever.

Anyway, what I find interesting is that when I write about piss bottles, the comments turn to politics, so I write about politics and get little response. But how many people have written me or come up to me and asked about piss bottles! :)

10:02  
Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

Sorry for not being too interested in piss :). Do you think you will achieve your objective of eliminating Islam through military objectives? It seems the politics of civilian leaders are not inclined to entertain this goal?

10:43  
Blogger Dorman said...

No, the elimination is a personal goal, not a military goal.

11:07  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Yes, watching my tax dollars go 'up in smoke' makes me very happy. I didn't need those extra dollars anyway.

Of course it was done for the oil. We can't seem to spend the time or the dollars finding other forms of energy because it wouldn't be as profitable as oil and gas. And, the big business baddies behind Bush (ooooh...alliteration makes my heart sing) are greedy bastards (as evidenced by recent record oil profits).

So we whine about how high our gas prices are. It's our only method of transportation in most cases. Only a handful of large cities have effective public transportation and are designed to benefit from it. Here in Texas, we have a severe case of 'urban sprawl'. I bet you could literally drive over 50 miles from east to west across the DFW metroplex and never cross into an 'uninhabited' area. City limit to city limit, with no interruption. According to Wikipedia, "About one in every four Texans lives in the DFW metroplex." And we all have cars! And we want cheap gas!

12:21  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:22  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Sorry, that double posted...I swear it was an accident!

12:24  
Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

IL, I agree entirely.

12:54  
Blogger Dorman said...

Try these links for me. Right click and SAVE AS.

Lecture 7

Lecture 8

These are 2 parts to a lecture that shows the basis for my view on Islam and Mohammed. The lecturer is not biased and tries to view the different religions as they see themselves. I will expand on all this in an upcoming post if these links work.

16:31  
Blogger Crystal said...

i must be crazy or something

but i just can't believe that we went to iraq solely based on the theory of oil exploitation. or that bush didn't really honestly think (regardless of the actual situation) that hussein was connected to terrorism. or whether to finish and unfinished legacy. or that the humanitarian reason wasn't and is not a noble cause in being there now. even if i disagreed once in whether or not we should be there, putting our soldiers in danger for these ends, it doesn't matter anymore, atleast as it pertains to iraq. and we all know that.

as for figuring out the proper extent of our role in reconstruction...how far should we go in developing areas that have been never developed, etc, i guess that that role should be delegated to us by the newly forming iraqi government. as they are the ones who should decide what role foreigners should play in their country, which would also promote self0governance. once we find out what is requested of us, is when we should figure out what, if any of those requests should be met. and securing the country for the new government is a good goal to work towards. because the state of affairs in iraq, whether we like it or not, is a direct reflection on US foreign policy under Bush. The image of a strong America is obviously what we are going for.

Oil prices are sky-rocketing for more reasons than political ones. its all about exploitation of a situation. how much of the price-rise is indicative of the crises of this war, world affairs, and of natural devastation, and how much is simply because of greedy, selfish business people?

a personal goal to rid the world of islam....hmmm ive actually been wondering why this hatred, why this religion, where did it all begin. its an easy bandwagon lately, and i guess i wrongfully assumed the military was the source of it for you D. so maybe, if you could explain when, how and why it all began, it might help us understand.

as always
~peace~ :)

00:52  
Blogger Crystal said...

also, happy labor day! even though some of us poor people have to work tomorrow, which is really today for me atleast.

00:55  
Blogger anotherPointOfView said...

Crys, ultimately it is about oil, that Bush wraps himslef in a flag and spews out "isms" that he doesn't understand, and that, he may believe that he his some kind of savior to Iraq, is not as relevant as the need for oil. Without, oil the US economy indeed the economies of all countries will grind to a halt. There is simply not enough alternative energy sources at this time that can provide the same amount of energy at the levels of cost once enjoyed. Hopefully this will change, and that we will make good on a combination of alternative sources such as fuel cell, wind, solar, hydrogen, and so on. In Vietnam one could argue it was about the cold war. But I think in face of the vast oil fields to gain influence over, any protests of ideology pale in consideration to the reserves below Iraq. At best it's a mixing of objectives, but without the prospect of vast reserves of oil, no one care about Iraq. With regard to the new Iraq government, it will undoubtedly decide to make use of American soldiers as long as they are of use, perhaps longer to simply to make them bleed
( sorry Dorman I wish no harm, and really will be happy for you when you get out ). Ultimately, they will turn to Iran for true allegiance, as they have already begun to do. The US will have achieved nothing of what they wanted to, accept remove Saddam, but even this falls only into the hands of the Iranians. As for Dorman's personal goals the latter, already, means a stronger Islam in Iraq, and a stronger Islam in the future, allied with Iran. In keeping with the theme of expanding Islam, Israel, is now seen as retreating, having given up the Gaza Strip, and will give up more in the West Bank. Around the world, many have viewed Saddam's stand against America, something they wish they could do, even if they despise Saddam himself. So, on these counts, both US and Dorman's goals of removing Islam from the world have taken a huge set back with the removal of Saddam from Iraq. As mentioned in the lectures Droman sent, (Thanks Dorman these were really intersting, there were many things in these lecures that I did not know about), Iraq was a seculiar country, whose people were muslim. Now, Iraq is now much more closer to an Islamic state, with debates around the constitution surround the reduction in the rights of women and the role of Islamic law.

Dorman, thanks again for the lecures. While they were informative, could you clarify how they relate to your objective to eliminate Islam?

12:21  
Blogger Dorman said...

Short Guy, Should be there next week sometime. Was hoping to see A.M.G. too but.....


APoV. My points in those lectures will be illuminated soon. They are just points about the true nature, beginnings, and purpose of Islam as a corrupt "religion"

14:36  
Blogger Debbie said...

I'd like to read this post on the "true nature of islam". Spit it out. :-)

01:39  
Blogger Jami said...

very thoughtful post. i had the same question when i visited chiapas, mexico: are they really better off with all this coca cola?

thanks for your service, and stay safe!

10:24  

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