Senior Defense Department officials last week emphasized the positive developments in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, painting a starkly contrasting picture to the high-profile media reports of anti-American guerilla warfare in the country.
At the National Press Club September 10, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cited specifics:
Clashes between coalition troops and locals are declining. “They’re down from about 25 to 26 incidents, country-wide, down to about 14 or 15 a day,” said Rumsfeld.
“There are now over 100 newspapers in the free press. . . in a free Iraq.”
“Our commanders, to a person, have told me . . . they believe that they have the right number of U.S. forces in the country at the present time.”
“The independent central bank of Germany, it took three years after World War II to establish it-it was established in Iraq in two months; that the police in Germany were established after 14 months-in Iraq, they were established in two months; that a new currency in Germany took three years-it took two and a half months in Iraq. The cabinet in Germany took 14 months. Iraq has a cabinet today after four months.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz gave his own list of specifics in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 9.
“Despite the terrorism, the entire south and north are impressively stable, and the center is improving day by day,” said Wolfowitz. The center area, from Baghdad to Tikrit, which was the stronghold of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Muslim support, has produced the largest number of incidents.
“The Governing Council of Iraq is easily the most representative body of governance ever formed in that nation, and is rapidly gaining real powers and responsibilities, such as appointing ministers, representing Iraq to the international community, and beginning the process of drafting the first-ever Iraqi constitution.” The Arab League last week accepted an envoy from the council as a legitimate representative of Iraq.
“Over 90% of Iraqi towns and provinces now have their own governing councils, including the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala.”
“The police force is at more than 50% of the requirement.”
“Schools were immediately stood back up. At all levels the school year was salvaged.”
“Hospitals nation-wide are open. Doctors and nurses are at work.”
“Public services-electrical, water, sewage-are nearly up to pre-war levels.”
“Recruiting and training for new Iraq security forces is underway-and, as already noted, we have gone from zero to 55,000 [personnel] in just four months.”
“Oil production has continued to increase, and recently it has averaged between 1.5 and 2 million barrels per day.”
At a September 4 speech in Arlington, Va., Maj. Gen. James Mattis, commander of the 1st Marine Division occupying southern Iraq, said his sector had few problems, despite the Najaf bombing that killed Shiite leader Ayatollah al-Hakim. “Our area is stable,” he said. “I don’t want more personnel. I sent many of my men home after combat ended because I didn’t want a big bootprint on the country. I’m having Marines dismount, interact with people, take their sunglasses off when they talk to people, and the people are friendly.”
“The casualties we are experiencing in Iraq are regrettable, but considering the size of the coalition force there, it’s really anecdotal,” Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who traveled to Iraq over the summer, told HUMAN EVENTS September 11. “There are 160,000 troops on the ground.” About 140,000 of those are American.