Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Iraq Reconstruction

After a thousand days of widely acknowledged failure in the job of rebuilding Iraq, the department of defence has quietly been relieved of that responsibility, with the State Department taking over as America's lead reconstruction agency and coordinating the work of all other government departments.

While supporters of the policies of President George W. Bush dismiss the change as an administrative adjustment, others suggest it is symbolic of a decades-old turf battle between the two departments, and the administration's increasing frustration with the reconstruction performance of the DOD and its contractors.

They also point to the switch as an example of how the president goes about making policy changes in Iraq: Exhorting the public to “stay the course” while changing it without fanfare.

First of all, the tone of this report I disagree with. Since Iraq was becoming a sovereign state with a permanent elected government, without a military government (ie, the United States Military), it is no longer a matter of military activity and it is appropriate that it changes to the State Department whose responsibility IS to deal with foreign states.

Look at the dates that it was changed:

The switch was made through a little noticed Dec. 7 Presidential National Security Directive. Its objective is “to promote the security of the United States through improved coordination, planning, and implementation for reconstruction and stabilisation assistance for foreign states and regions at risk of, in, or in transition from conflict or civil strife.”

The directive says: “The Secretary of State shall coordinate and lead integrated United States government efforts”, coordinating these efforts with the secretary of defence to ensure harmonisation with any planned or ongoing US military operations across the spectrum of conflict.”

December 7 is 8 days before the Iraq election on December 15. This is not a change in "course" nor any recognition of "failure" on the military's part to do reconstruction. It is a process of politics, not as this man implies, but in regards to how states function and relate to each other.

But, that's what you get when you apply objective subjectivity of your own politics and perceptions to a story.

Read the restJordan Times (Opinion Section)

While in other news, areas that are relatively stable begin construction that looks like average community planning:

Work on a large project has started in the southern city of Basra, declared Makki Hamad Ghali, Basra’s housing director.

Basra, he said, will have several housing projects each costing nearly 25 billion Iraqi dinars (approx. $18 million).

Work on the first such project has already started, he said.

He said the project will include the construction of 50 three-storey- buildings each with 10 flats.

Each of the housing complexes will have its own primary and secondary schools, shopping centers, car parks, a mosque and a football stadium.

Ghali did not say how many complexes will eventually be built in the city.

However, he said, the first stage of the projects had started and hoped the construction will send a signal to the tight housing market that the government is determined to solve the housing crisis.

Obviously, this is a government program with the money coming from either aid or oil revenue profits, but it will create public sector jobs for the foreseeable future which, in some respects, is more important than providing the government built housing since it means that unemployment in the area will go down, more money will enter the economy, people will be able to buy things, including possibly their own homes instead of government apartments, some will be convinced to start their own businesses and certainly, there will be corruption, but there will also be tax money from revenues put back into the system.

My only concern is the tendency of third world countries in Africa and the Middle East to build cheap, ugly tenements that quickly turn into the ghetto. Let's hope they have better planners than, say, Libya.

DAHUK, Iraq, Jan. 11, 2006 — Within a community, the activities occurring in two specialized types of buildings hold great sway and influence for the residents of the community – they are schools and religious structures. Because of the influence a school can have on the current and future society, it is important to the reconstruction of Iraq to provide sound lasting facilities that will positively influence the future of this country for years to come. [snip]

The Kovak Primary School in the Dahuk District is one of those buildings. This 12-classroom school was newly constructed from the ground up. A year in the making, it is now complete and ready to house 36 teachers and about 825 students.

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