Thursday, October 26, 2006

Catfish Farm

[posted by Callimachus]

First Part

Second Part

Third Part

This is the fourth of a six-part series of posts was written by our friend Kat, the contractor's employee who worked on reconstruction projects in and around Iraq after the fall of Saddam. Her story is told here and here among other places (listed in the sidebar at left).

As far as I know, the only anti-Administration blogger to really take up these pieces and accept then into his broader view of the war was Kevin Robinson's My Thinking Corner.

Kevin asked Kat some questions about her impressions and her experiences, which she answered, with elaborations, at his site. With Kevin's permission, I'm reprinting her answers, lightly edited, as posts here, since they are interesting in their own right and they broaden and deepen the story she told in the series of posts last month.

Kevin's questions are in italics, and quotes. Emphasis added, in boldface, is by the editor.

October 17

"Third Question – I imagine most people, if they think of what we might be doing there at all, would think we’re rebuilding utilities and the oil industry. Is that an accurate assessment of the contracting effort? What other projects received attention?"

I mostly addressed this question in response to your second, but I think here I can provide a little more of what I think, based on what I’ve observed and know of our efforts.

Most people in the U.S. have no concept of either the operations or their requirements in Iraq. For that matter, most of the people in the world don’t, because the press of most nations has done a terrible job of passing on information. You can say what you will about the administration or politics, but this administration couldn’t sit down and explain much of this without the majority of the press treating it with cynicism or simply failing to print it.

Even if they did, most people in the U.S. or Europe wouldn’t pay much attention. To get that kind of attention you have to go to the Middle and Far East, where they actually care about things like that.

Yes, we are rebuilding utilities and the oil industry. Those are major points in our efforts, and as such are major targets for insurgents. Simple fools look at our efforts and take the easy route, claiming it’s all about us getting cheap oil, while never understanding a thing about Iraq.

What else are you going to do to rebuild Iraq? Turn it into a catfish farm? Are you going to turn it into the tulip capital of the world, or develop it into a tourist Mecca? No way. Unless you’re insane, you’re going to redevelop the oil industry, because it’s Iraq’s life blood, just as it is Iran’s or Saudi Arabia’s. If you want Iraq to prosper, if you want Iraqis employed and enjoying life, you rebuild the oil industry. It’s as simple as that. After that, Iraq can make its own decisions, and if catfish or tulips or tourists are part of those decisions, then they’ll at least be in a position to attempt it.

Iraq can be a lot of things in the future. But for now, they require oil, they require electricity, and they require water. They require roads and basic care and security. Most of these are things that we in the U.S. cannot provide for ourselves individually, but instead must band together to do as townships, states, and a nation. It is not a sin or an abomination that one nation or group of nations attempt to help provide these things to another. It is also not foolish to believe that these efforts may produce a degree of trust, appreciation, and even cooperation in the future. If these things are not true, we might as well wall up our borders now, and cease our efforts to be a part of the rest of the world.

Fifth Part

Sixth Part