economics key to win in Iraq
(published in the San Antonio
a mess! A year since the Invasion of Iraq began,
the economy of that country remains in shambles
and is only slightly better than it was during
the years of sanctions and a dictator's regime.
44% of Iraqis said that things are about the
same or worse than they were a year ago, according
to the most recent National
Survey of Iraq commissioned by the BBC (Oxford
is high, too few citizens have begun to
rebuild their destroyed homes and businesses,
there isn't a representative functioning government,
and nation-building has progressed slower than
expected hindered by several things: bureaucratic
bungling, continued fighting, and lack of economic
the very first, top-down management and political
battles between The Whitehouse, DOD, the
State Department, and the United Nations, brought
economic paralysis to Iraq. Then, bureaucratic
infighting slowed the flow of desperately needed
dollars. Only just now are
contracts being awarded from the $18.4
billion that Congress allocated for rebuilding.
the military leaders of the Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA) found that they
were untrained for the task of economic development
of their depth at managing civilian agencies.
They quickly staffed positions with reservists
and fresh university grads who knew little of
the country they were to oversee.
security remains a constant problem. Daily bombing
and killings led to an almost complete pullout
by aide agencies - from the Red
Cross to Feed
the Children - that might otherwise have
result is that, for all the America's good intentions
or not, circumstances in Iraq remain critical
and a greater emphasis needs to be placed on
economic strategies before they unravel further.
economic development is the lone key to rebuilding
Iraq and repairing the economy, stabilizing
the political situation, and restoring security.
Recent events in Haiti delineate all too well
what happens when people aren't given access
to the economic resources and jobs needed to
create a stable society.
is particularly crucial in Iraq's capital city
of 6 million; for "as goes Baghdad so goes
the country," one coalition officer recently
understand the difficulties of economic development
in Baghdad I talked to local businesspersons
during my most recent trip. The following is
only one of many stories that illustrate the
challenges felt in that city.
family used to live in upper-middle-class
comfort in their Northeast Baghdad suburb.
They built up a prosperous tire store business
through the years and enjoyed satellite television
and computers in their home. During the "Battle
of Baghdad" they fled the country, only
to return to find their 3-story home gutted
after an April 6 firefight between the army
and insurgents. Not only did they lose all
of their family possessions but also their
entire inventory of tires that they had also
stored for safekeeping. They would like to
rebuild their business and their life but
don't know where they will get the funds -
there is no insurance for such cases.
the occupation of Iraq enters the second year,
there is some optimism that Baghdad's economy
will receive a fresh look.
Army's 1st Cavalry Division, from Ft. Hood Texas,
is deploying to and
will have primary responsibility for the area
of Baghdad. Commander General, Peter Chiarelli,
and his staff have been meeting with civic,
business, and academic leaders to understand
what is needed to manage such a large city and
have expressed a desire to "think outside
of the box."
are taking the knowledge they have learned with
them to Iraq and hope to have a significant
impact on improving Baghdad and the country
in general. The Division soldiers won't be working
in a vacuum but rather engaging directly with
Iraqi business and civic leaders - and ordinary
citizens - on a daily basis throughout the city.
is immense hope that in the coming months a
greater emphasis will be placed on street-level
projects that will result in the creation of
jobs, meet basic human needs, and foster Iraqi
ownership and self-sustainability
founder of Texans for Peace, recently returned
from his second trip to Iraq, undertaken through
the Christian Peacemaker Teams organization
of Chicago. He is a high-tech CEO and lives
with his two sons in San Antonio.