The Colgate Scene
July 2004

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A response to "Views from the front line"

. . . Americans receive limited information on what is really happening today in Iraq (Scene, May 2004). I recently had an opportunity to spend two weeks training 75 high- to medium-level Iraqi civil servants from 12 different ministries. The people in one ministry did not know the persons from the other ministries. It was a good cross section of the population, about one third of whom were women. These are the people who will implement the first wave of reconstruction projects in Iraq financed by donors. The program was set up by a Dane who works in the Coalition Provisional Authority, which is an international organization and is not made up solely of Americans. I was working with the same team, including an Iraqi who had done similar training in Baghdad in 1977 and 1978. The participants were experienced, very capable, and dedicated to excellence. They were delighted to be rid of Saddam and embarrassed that he had taken Iraq to such a low point. They were all from the Baghdad area and said the security situation is not as bad as the media portrays it. Life goes on.

One engineer had been imprisoned and tortured for five years because during the Iran-Iraq war he had said Saddam was crazy. Another man had twice been uprooted from his home in the middle of the night because neighbors had reported him for having a satellite and having contact with the opposition to Saddam, neither of which was true. I found absolutely no animus towards Americans -- in fact, the opposite. It is an interesting economic situation because they are not collecting bills for any services like water or electricity or tariffs on imports. Electricity demand has surged due to the import of appliances. They hope that the security situation will improve when they take over the government in July.
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