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If it bleeds, it leads
By Brad Jewitt
"If it bleeds, it leads." Ask any journalist and he'll tell you this old cliché holds true. If a news story contains personal tragedy, property loss, or -- best of all -- gory detail, you can bet that the story will lead off the night's newscast or appear above the fold in the morning paper.
Predictably, the news of "bleeding" in Iraq masks so many of the positive things that are happening in that country. Too often, we only hear what's going wrong. Despite one of the quickest military successes in history, we now regularly hear words like "quagmire" and "mistake." I'd like to introduce a few new words that seem to be missing from the Iraq debate. How about words like "progress" and "success"? The truth is, improvements are being made, and accomplishments are mounting.
Iraqis are getting their country back. After decades of brutal dictatorship, the Iraqi people are turning from a terrible past to take control of their future. Just last week the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Youth and Sports transitioned to full Iraqi control. These transitions mean that thirteen full government ministries are now being run and governed by the Iraqi people. On June 30th of this year, the Coalition Provisional Authority will transfer power to a sovereign Iraqi government.
Democracy is spreading. To date, USAID has held over 7,000 civic and democracy town hall meetings, training sessions, and public forums led by more than 500 Iraqi facilitators. Our Coalition continues to make great efforts to assist Iraqi women, including establishing women's centers, providing vocational training and education programs for them.
Critical infrastructure is being rebuilt and refurbished at an encouraging rate. Water and sanitation projects in Najaf and Fallujah will be completed this summer, to the benefit of nearly 800,000 Iraqi citizens. Reconstruction of Baghdad International Airport continues in preparation for commercial operations and increased traffic. The ability to use a telephone, something you and I might take for granted, is now within reach of more Iraqis than ever before. The total number of telephone subscribers in Iraq is now over 1,220,000 -- a 45.7 per cent rise over pre-war levels.
Health care is improving in Iraq as well. The Iraqi Ministry of Health has recently completed a nation-wide immunization campaign covering more than five million children. Primary health care kits for nearly forty health centers in Fallujah, Najaf, and Karbala will soon be delivered in an effort to equip a total of 600 primary health care centers with much-needed medical supplies. A health clinic in Baghdad's Sadr City has been re-equipped and now serves 15,000 citizens.
Education in Iraq was also strengthened during the month of May. On May 15, the Coalition and the Education Ministry ordered the printing of 72 million textbooks, covering more than ten subjects, for six million students. The Coalition is also working with the Ministry to expand pre-school and kindergarten programs for Iraqi children.
While unemployment rates still pose a concern in Iraq, the Coalition has created over 435,000 jobs for Iraqis. The new Iraqi currency has been relatively stable for nearly three months and bank branches have re-opened. Revenues from oil exports total nearly $6 billion already this year.
All of this is occurring, and yet I haven't heard anything about it in the news. Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise considering the same networks (CBS, NBC, ABC) that are so intent on highlighting our setbacks in Iraq are the same that apparently didn't find the need to broadcast President Bush's most recent speech outlining his vision for success in Iraq.
We continue to face serious challenges and grave concerns in Iraq. Many families in our area are rightfully concerned about friends and loved ones serving bravely in the Middle East. But the mainstream media's obsession with doom-and-gloom, the-sky-is-falling stories from Iraq undermines America's breadth of success in a country that is finally on a path to freedom from tyranny.
Our Coalition in Iraq is making progress. The Iraqis are taking control of their country and their future. Democracy is slowly taking shape. Basic infrastructure, once crumbling, is being improved. Schools and hospitals are being built. The citizens of Iraq are being put to work. We have had, and will continue to have, difficult times. But we cannot fail. We will not fail. And, contrary to what you might hear from powerful Democrats and nightly news broadcasts, we are not failing in this endeavor.
Brad Jewitt is the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress in Maryland's 5th Congressional District. He is a 15-year Marine who was activated for both Operation Desert Storm/Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom. Visit his website at www.jewitt2004.com.
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