In any case, what irritated me today was an article that reviewed Operation Iraqi Freedom "The Aftermath" (which just using the word "Aftermath" in and of itself tells me that its going to be slanted) in which it went on about the poor shape of the local economy since the war. For example, the oil rich nation is now exporting close to what it did before the war, but they have to import gasoline because they are no longer refining the oil themselves (yet). Due to the need to import, the large draw of gasoline to keep tanks and military vehicles running, there is a huge shortage of gasoline in the country.
First, I'm not going to apologize for the need to keep our tanks in working order. If the tanks weren't there, Sadam would be. I think that's a fair trade off given that its for the short term.
Second, the local economy wasn't all that great to begin with. Most everyone worked for the government prior to the war in some capacity (army, police, or extensive civil service) and now that the regime is gone and a new government in early stages, there is a lot of unemployment. Ok, but how many advanced countries have 80% of their populations employed by the government? Sure, lots of people had jobs, but they were sitting at the Iraqi equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles, getting low pay and no chance at a "bright" future. You'd think that instead of looking at the $55 they used to make each month, they'd look forward to the $75 they may make a month if they take advantage of their new freedoms. Short term thinking (and to my mind, whining). Yes it's tough now, but one would hope that not everyone in that society had their life long aspirations to be squeaking out a living working in a dead end job (working for a dictator).
Third, they site smuggling as a huge problem. Ok, I'll grant you that a black market is not the way to run a country, but it's that very black market that is getting them what they need. Meaning, they don't get gasoline for .30 a gallon anymore, but at least they can still get gas even if they have to pay .60 a gallon for the next year. And who do they blame for the smuggling? They don't say it directly, but of course it's the United States for not securing the borders. However, the United States has insecure borders (witness terrorists wandering into the country, drug smuggling, illegal immigrants, etc) and even without all the distracting problems that exist in Iraq today, we still can't keep our own borders completely buttoned up. The point is, governments don't stop smuggling as much as good economies do. Quit whining about today and plan for tomorrow.
Lastly, everyone is quick to blame America or Bush or the UK for all of Iraq's problems, but I'd like to point out that Iraq was not a paradise even before the first Iraqi war. Back then they were all complaining about having to live under Sadam with his killings, tortures, profiteering, etc. Now they are complaining (and many of them are doing worse than that) about us. Well you know what, some day you people might have to give up on whining because from where I sit, it hasn't gotten you very far. Maybe if you put your energy towards rebuilding your country, rather than sabotaging your own oil pipelines and blowing up your own police forces you would get further. Some day the Americans will leave and you won't be able to blame us for your problems forever (even though you will). Be prepared that when we do leave, which is what you claim you want, that you will be responsible for what happens there. YOU will be responsible for your government. YOU will be in charge of what laws you pass, the economy you grow, and how you treat your neighbors. You can say that we Americans screwed everything up, but 10 years later, if Iraq isn't exactly what you want, you will only have yourselves to blame. And this time, don't expect us to come in and fix it.
One final note. Those preceding comments were to the average Iraqi citizen. These comments are for those behind the attacks on American and Iraqi troops and civilians. Right now you have it pretty good. You are getting funding from around the world, and you have your own private little crusade with lots of power and holy "honor". You must feel pretty powerful, being able to send men out to fight and die for you, and if they are willing to give their lives for you, then more power to them. BUT, be prepared that some day, the people you send off to do your dirty work for you, while you sit getting richer, hiding in the shadows, some day those people might wake up. Some day those people may begin to see prosperity in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, and they may realize that they can do better than to keep on fighting against the tide of progress. They may decide that a life of God inspired destruction is not what He had intended. They may even figure out that killing innocents and supposed "non-believers" isn't the only way to go to heaven, and that in fact, they can even do that by living a long and good life devoid of violence and fear in their hearts. And when and if that day comes, I hope you will finally be prepared to die for your cause, because rest assured, you will. And the only legacy you leave behind will be the memories of those who died with your encouragement, with dreams of regaining that $55 a month, working for a dictator.
Energy mis-spent, is energy wasted.