igloo Posted March 24 Report Share Posted March 24 U.S. 'winning peace' with massive rebuildBiggest reconstruction since WW II brings country back from brink--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Posted: March 24, 2004By John M. PowersÂ© 2004 Insight/News World Communications Inc. The reconstruction effort began in Iraq even before President Bush announced that the regime of Saddam Hussein had been defeated. Even before the Iraqi army was driven from the field, the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, and a host of other nongovernmental organizations and private contractors were either hard at work on logistics and staging or waiting impatiently in Kuwait to rebuild a nation torn apart by tyranny. The Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA, and USAID, working with Iraqis and other advisers, would operate under a massive plan to reconstruct Iraq, the likes of which has not been seen since the Marshall Plan that restored Europe in the years after World War II. Government workers, volunteers and private employees have been flowing into Iraq ever since to provide both consultancy and hands-on expertise for the many programs the United States and its allies have put on their to-do list. The CPA and USAID are working hard to restore essential infrastructure, to restore and support health care and education, to expand economic opportunity, and to improve the efficiency and accountability of governance. Lewis Lucke, USAID's mission director in Iraq, tells Insight he reached Kuwait while the war was still raging and that on April 21, 2003, as soon as control of southern Iraq was secured, his team moved over the border into Iraq. He reports that the first goal for USAID was to rehabilitate Iraq's only deep-water seaport at Um Qasr so that food could be shipped in to avert a humanitarian crisis. Lucke and his team were shocked at what they found. "The state of Iraqi infrastructure in general was in pretty sad shape, but it wasn't because of the conflict," he says. "It was because of ... decades of complete and utter neglect by the regime. ... It was truly unbelievable ... even to the experts." The mission director says the condition of the power plants was especially poor. He inspected one such plant with a team of subcontractors from the German company Siemens, which had built it 30 years earlier. Engineers who remembered building the plant were astounded at the state of disrepair in which they found the generator units. For many years the Iraqi engineers had not even had replacement parts but somehow found a way to keep the machines running, Lucke says. These are "ingenious" and "clever and very capable folks technically," he says, but there are only so many times a machine can be fixed with bailing wire and chewing gum. Even so, according to the USAID mission director, Iraqi engineers sometimes were executed by Saddam's men when they could not keep a power unit on-line. The condition of the power plants has been vastly improved, and by October 2003 power production surpassed prewar levels, says a USAID report. And supported by engineers and logistical wizards from Bechtel Corp., a private contractor based in San Francisco that has taken on enormous projects all over the world, USAID soon had put in place the new Iraqi Telephone Exchange. Assessing the situation with professional aplomb, USAID identified 1,700 "critical breaks" in the water network of Baghdad alone and teams set to work to repair them. The Army Corps of Engineers, USAID and the private American corporations have been busy rebuilding the critical Khazir, Tikrit and Al Mat bridges and nearly have completed reconstruction of the Baghdad and Basra airports. Though many of these reconstruction projects were handled quickly under emergency conditions by Western companies, Lucke says, it is the policy of USAID and the CPA to use local Iraqi subcontractors "to the absolute extent possible" because of their in-country experience and to stimulate local employment. "This is going to work best if the Iraqis are not only involved in it but take the lead," says the mission director. "It's large! It's the largest reconstruction operation the U.S. has undertaken since the Marshall Plan," reports Lucke, who stresses that repairing the infrastructure is not the only reconstruction that must go on in Iraq. To support all of this, the CPA and USAID have put in place an intense program of maintenance that didn't exist under Saddam. And the infrastructures of Iraqi schools and the Iraqi judicial system also are getting a much-needed overhaul. 'Abysmal' schools The condition of schools in Iraq was "abysmal," Lucke says. He reports that USAID and the CPA found schools without electricity and lighting fixtures. Blackboards had been torn from the walls and desks were in a "terrible state." Saddam's regime stored weapons in schools, the mission director says, and buildings fell into such disrepair that his team discovered raw sewage backed up in school hallways. Working with Bechtel and the NGOs, the CPA and USAID have rehabilitated 2,200 schools. Lucke anticipates another round of school rehabilitation because Congress recently appropriated $18 billion more to help Iraq recover and move toward democratic rule. And USAID has started the Accelerated Learning Program to help students who have missed or dropped out of school because of cruel punishments or because they could not afford the bribes that were extorted under Saddam's rule. The program is designed to give children two years of accelerated schooling in one year. It provides a "master teacher" to assist classroom teachers (whom the reconstruction partners will train in modern teaching techniques) and also a community-outreach counselor to encourage attendance. All of these positions are filled by Iraqis. So far, USAID reports, 55 teachers are working in the accelerated program and 644 students have been enrolled. Another area that is receiving attention is the Iraqi judicial system. Stephen M. Orlofsky, a former U.S. district judge, is one of three federal judges invited by the CPA to be part of a 13-member judicial-assessment team, which also includes court clerks, public defenders and defense attorneys. Orlofsky tells Insight that Iraq's courthouses "had been stripped of everything from lightbulbs to doorknobs. They had no power or had it only intermittently. No furniture, books, no telephone service. All of this was compounded by the fact that the temperature hovered at 130 degrees." Orlofsky adds that a massive amount of court documents and official records had been destroyed. Under Saddam, Orlofsky says, judges were required to join the Ba'ath Party to gain their positions, though about 35 of the judges he interviewed insisted they were not members of the Ba'ath Party or were low-ranking members. Only one admitted he was a high-level Ba'athist, says Orlofsky, and "I remember thinking at the time, 'We should probably keep this guy because he's the only one who's told me the truth.'" Bribery was routine in the practice of Iraqi law, taking the form of cash, gifts or sexual favors. "When I met with the attorneys, they told me the Iraqi judicial system was rife with corruption. Money changed hands frequently. The Saddam regime often intervened to influence the outcome of cases" by providing gifts to judges, Orlofsky says. Adding to the already deformed system, many of the judges who were in place had little or no legal training. Instead, they were sent to a "judicial institute" that Orlofsky says was nothing more than a propaganda school. Even so, he observes, most members of the judiciary seemed to be excited to start reforms with the CPA despite pressure from hidden Ba'athists who continue to threaten and strike against those working for modernization. Orlofsky says he met one judge who expressed thanks to the United States for toppling Saddam. A month after their meeting, he learned the man had been killed for cooperating with the Americans. Although the Iraqi judicial system was not proactive and case management was a foreign concept, Orlofsky believes there is hope because of the commitment of key Iraqi jurists. "There's certainly a pool of talent on the Iraqi bar that can be drawn upon to select fair, impartial and independent judges," he says. For Iraq to be fully reconstructed, the American judge tells Insight, Iraqis must establish the rule of law. Among other things that means banning torture, establishing the right to remain silent and providing counsel for suspects â€“ all revolutionary ideas in Iraq. Meanwhile, there is little that the CPA, USAID or other reconstructors can take from the U.S. experience in Afghanistan, says Ron Cruse, head of Logenix International, a Virginia-based company that supports agencies such as USAID in war-torn countries. He says the cultures and internal conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan are so completely different as not to translate. But for the moment, he says, it is most important that Iraqis "stand up and make their country a safer place." Lucke and Orlofsky report the willingness of many Iraqis to join with coalition partners to make their country a better place. As Orlofsky puts it: "Because we committed 150,000 of our troops to win the war ... to those who won the war, we owe the winning of the peace." Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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