In order to determine if we are winning in Iraq, it’s important that we first establish what winning really means.
During his speech two weeks ago about the new strategies for the war, I think President Bush hit the nail right on the head when he said “Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world – a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people.”
With that frame of reference, the best way to assess our progress is comparing the current conditions in Iraq to the conditions before the war started in 2003.
For decades, Saddam suppressed Iraqis with a culture of fear and violence. He sanctioned torture, rape rooms and assassinations of those who opposed him. In 1988, he used nerve and mustard gas to kill 180,000 of his own people. Last time I checked, chemical weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction.
After the fall of Saddam’s regime in 2003, we found 270 mass graves holding the remains of over 400,000 Iraqis. To give this some perspective, the only mass murders in history to surpass Saddam’s atrocities were the genocide in Rwanda, Pol Pot’s killing fields in Cambodia, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Luckily for Iraq and for the future security of America, Saddam Hussein will now only appear in history books.
This brings us to today. Everyone knows about the bad things going on in Iraq, but as I mentioned in my column last semester titled “The True War in Iraq,” our wonderful media doesn’t like to tell the whole story. Since the fall of Saddam, more than 30,000 businesses have been created along with hundreds of newspapers and TV stations that can operate free from fear of an oppressive government.
Hundreds of thousands of children are now attending schools across the country, while new power plants are being built to sustain this new way of life. The Army Corps of Engineers reports that approximately 75 percent of Iraqis are using twice the electricity they could before the war thanks to some of the 3,071 reconstruction projects that have been completed as of last week.
Can you see the difference? Most importantly, Iraqis now have something they didn’t under Saddam – hope.
With all of this in mind, I can confidently say we are winning in Iraq. However, our focus should remain on working toward an independent nation that can uphold a secure democracy.
Our military is doing a spectacular job given the position they have been put in. More than 3,000 troops have lost their lives in Iraq and our country mourns their loss. But it’s amazing to see how people can ignore how low of a number that is considering our circumstances.
Last August, the Washington Post reported that in 2005 alone, there were 43,443 traffic related deaths in the United States.
In World War II, a war most Americans stood behind, we sadly lost more than 400,000 troops during a period of time roughly the same as the current war.
Unfortunately, putting things in perspective is not an interest of our nation’s media. Make no mistake about it; we are on the path to victory in Iraq. We need to stop playing politics and let our troops do what they do best.
Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.