Media Overlook Good News in Iraq-Shoots from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii – Aug. 30, 2005

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NEW YORK – Amid roadside bombs, constitutional squabbles, and even a blinding sandstorm on Monday, one wonders if anything is going right in Iraq. Plenty is, actually, although the mainstream media rarely mention such good news.

The journalists’ maxim, “If it bleeds, it leads,” prevails. Major news outlets correctly focus on the depressing consequences of the Improvised Explosive Devices and car bombs responsible for 70 percent of U.S. military fatalities in Iraq last month. Terrorist assassinations of civil servants and police officers obviously deserve coverage. But it honors neither America’s soldiers nor Iraq’s selfless patriots to overlook the achievements they share in this new republic.


The growth of locals in uniform is a positive military development. According to the Brookings Institution’s indispensable Iraq Index, (, on-duty Iraqi security personnel have risen from 125,373 in January to 175,700 today. They fight beside Coalition forces against terrorists and Baathist holdouts. One joint raid nabbed 22 alleged insurgents in Yusufiyah July 25 while another 10 suspected terrorists were caught in Ramadi August 3. In both cases, the Pentagon reports, citizens offered timely intelligence that helped Iraqis and their Coalition partners nail these killers.

Civic-affairs work by uniformed personnel may have persuaded average Iraqis to furnish useful information. On August 5, GIs and medics from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Division, plus Iraqi police, performed health screenings on 200 Mosul children. They also gave these kids soccer balls. During five such missions since mid-July, some 1,000 kids in Mosul received basic medical attention.

Most Iraqis actually see the overall security situation improving. A July 12 – 17 Tips Hotline survey of roughly 1,200 Iraqis in Baghdad, Basra, Salah ad-Din, Najaf, Diyala, and Irbil found that 75 percent of respondents believe their security forces are beating anti government fighters. Twenty percent saw the security situation as “somewhat worse” than in April, and 14 percent found it “much worse,” but 46 percent considered it “somewhat better,” and 16 percent described it as “much better.”

In that connection, the deaths of 54 American troops in July were maddening and painful tragedies, one and all. But these fatalities were considerably below the 137 GI deaths recorded last November, though only 36 were killed last March.

Infrastructure improvements also are encouraging. A new Kirkuk treatment plant began providing clean water to 5,000 people on June 27, the State Department reports. Another 84 U.S.-led waterworks projects are under way in Iraq, while 114 have been completed.

As Saddam Hussein relaxed in his palaces, his subjects in Kamaliya lived without sewers and relied instead on trenches that often overflowed onto the streets. Now, with Coalition assistance, 8,870 of Kamaliya’s homes will receive sewage treatment. Some 600 local workers will complete this $27 million project. U.S. government funded projects employed 110,005 Iraqis in early August.

Some 18,000 pupils will study in rehabilitated classrooms when they go back to school in mid-September. According to U.S. and Iraqi officials, 43 more schools were slated for renovation on August 6. So far, 3,211 schools have been refurbished, and another 773 are being repaired.

Iraq’s monthly oil exports have grown from $200 million in June 2003 to $2.5 billion last month. This is due both to higher prices and to the fact that fuel supplies have swelled from 23 percent to 97 percent of official production goals in that period. These key improvements also help explain why Iraq’s GDP increased from a World Bank estimate of $12.1 billion in 2003 to a projected $21.1 billion in 2004.

Iraqis who endured Baathist censorship now enjoy a vibrant, free press.

Commercial TV channels, radio stations, and independent newspapers and magazines have zoomed from zero before Operation Iraqi Freedom to – respectively – 29, 80, and 170 today.

Internet subscribers have boomed from 4,500 before Iraq’s liberation to 147,076 last March, not counting the additional Iraqis who use Internet cafes. When Saddam Hussein fell, Iraq had 833,000 telephone subscribers. In July, that figure soared 356.4 percent to 3,801,822.

In the political arena, women hold seven of Baghdad’s top 40 ministerial positions. While Iraq is more than 17.5 percent female, this is impressive political involvement for women in the world’s most sexist region. Among others, women run Iraq’s ministries of communications, environment, public works, and human rights.

America’s National Democratic Institute (a donkey-dominated global outreach organization) last month trained 208 members of 70 political parties and 10 NGOs from across Iraq. They studied U.S.-style campaign skills including knocking on doors, canvassing petitions, and organizing rallies. In another workshop, activists learned how to promote their parties’ agendas on TV during two-minute and even 30-second sound bites.

Though he opposed the decision to go to war, Cato Institute senior fellow Tom Palmer traveled to Baghdad for the second time last April to address 61 members of Iraq’s parliament on individual freedom, limited government, and the rule of law. The entire legislature later received printed copies of his Power Point presentation. Cato also arranged the first Arabic translations of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution for distribution throughout Iraq.

Palmer now spearheads Cato’s latest project pertinent to the region: That’s Arabic for Lamp of Once it’s fully functional on August 18, this website will feature market-oriented policy perspectives and the classic views of Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Voltaire, Frederic Bastiat, and others. Intellectuals in Iraq are helping Cato develop and manage this Web site.

Despite the Left’s ceaseless lies to the contrary, America’s 138,500 GIs do not fight alone in Iraq. A Multi-National Force of some 23,000 soldiers still stands shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. and NATO. As of July 25, they hailed from Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

While Americans, Coalition allies, and Iraqi patriots perform these admirable deeds, and more, terrorists there know just one word: “Destroy.” They interchangeably demolish people and property in their quest to turn Iraq into a 1980s-style Beirut as big as California.

These mainly foreign murderers contribute absolutely nothing positive.

They neither construct, nor maintain, nor clean anything that does not go, “Boom!” Last September 30, homicide bombers killed three dozen children who gathered around U.S. soldiers as they gave away candy at a

Baghdad water treatment facility. These Islamo-fascist butchers must be

eliminated as thoroughly as Orkin dispatches rats.

The White House communications team – hobbled by institutional bashfulness and a nearly terminal incapacity for self-expression – must educate Americans and our allies more effectively on what works in Iraq.

While journalists should not whitewash Iraq’s mayhem, they should cover the accomplishments of U.S. personnel, soldiers from the 27 other nations with boots on the sand, and the Iraqis who are rebuilding their country – never mind the evildoers’ blasts and billowing smoke.

”’Reprinted courtesy of National Review Online.”’

”’New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a member of the Board of Advisors for Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. See Web site at:”’

”’This editorial is intended to provoke thought, discussion and an examination of issues. It does not reflect official policy of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. See the GRIH Web site at:”’

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Daily Policy Digest


Monday, August 29, 2005

Settlement money from the historic tobacco lawsuit in the late 1990s was never intended to balance ailing state budgets, let alone buy golf carts, cable lines and security cameras, says Howard Markel, a pediatrician and historian of medicine at the University of Michigan.

As part of the legal settlement, tobacco companies agreed to pay $246 billion over 25 years to every state and the District of Columbia for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. However, in the last five years, states have received $40.7 billion in tobacco settlement revenue but have devoted only five percent of this money to fighting the tobacco epidemic.

Markel reveals where some states are misspending their settlement money:

Alabama has spent more than $1 million of this money on boot camps for juvenile delinquents, alternative schools and metal detectors and surveillance cameras for public schools, while Michigan has used 75 percent to provide $2,500 college scholarships to high schools students.
Illinois has used $315 million for property tax relief and an earned-income tax rebate, whereas North Dakota has spent about 45 percent of its settlement on water resources and flood control projects.
In North Carolina, 75 percent of the tobacco settlement money went to provide assistance to the tobacco-producing community.
New York has used $700,000 to buy golf carts and an irrigation and sprinkler system for a public golf course in Niagara County, and Virginia has spent $12 million to lay fiber-optic lines for broadband cable in southern sections of the state.
Voters, millions of smokers who want to quit and millions more we want to keep from ever smoking ought to ask their legislators where the money went, says Markel.

Source: Howard Markel, “Burning Money,” New York Times, August 22, 2005.

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”Sprout of the Day”

“The stated reason for going to war with Iraq is that our intelligence agencies surmised Saddam Hussein had, or was near having, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Intelligence is never perfect. During World War II, our intelligence agencies thought that Germany was close to having an atomic bomb. That intelligence was later found to be flawed, but it played an important role in the conduct of the war. Since intelligence is always less than perfect, we’re forced to decide which error is least costly. Leading up to our war with Iraq, the potential errors confronting us were: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and we incorrectly assumed he didn’t. Or, he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and we incorrectly assumed he did. Both errors are costly, but which is more costly? It’s my guess that it would have been more costly for us to make the first error: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and we incorrectly assumed he didn’t.”

– Walter Williams