Helping Iraqis Bring Their Country Into The 21st Century

August 15, 2008

One mission, besides security, that our Troops have spent a lot of time on Iraq and are very dedicated to, is helping to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and update facilities and equipment. Technologically speaking, Iraq is about 25 years behind the rest of the world, mostly in part, because of the fact that for 25 years, under the reign of Saddam Hussein’s regime, they weren’t allowed the technological advances that the rest of the world enjoyed. Hussein and his regime, kept the country in the “dark ages” so to speak, not allowing citizens access to modern conveniences, things that for us, are commonplace.

“You’re looking at a nation that has … suffered from 25 years of tyranny under Saddam Hussein and has not had the things that you and I take for granted,” Air force Col. Karlton Johnson, communications director for the Multinational Security Transition command in Iraq told online journalists and bloggers in a teleconference.1

For instance, much of Iraq was without electricity for much of each day, before the 2004 invasion of the country, so the things that we enjoy, such as televisions, dvd players, computers, etc weren’t able to be used for much of the time. Modern sewer and water filtration systems are another thing that our Troops have been working on. As our Troops made their way into Iraq, the stench of sewage in the streets was often overpowering.

“What we intend to do over the next 500 days is to take the Iraqis from where they are to the next level,” he said.2

That process isn’t an easy one, as the entire backbone of the country, electrical services, water services, etc are so far behind, that those have to be updated prior to updating other things, such as computer networks. The initial plans are to upgrade the government security, communications systems, to support the country’s security functions. Experts in all fields are focusing on mentoring and building relationships with their Iraqi counterparts. Because their needs are different than those in the US and Europe, it’s imperative that those officials are involved in the process. The hopes are, that even though the focus at this point is on the technological capabilities of the government, that will eventually filter down to the citizens. Col. Johnson recalled an incident, where he wanted to loan a CD to an Iraqi friend, only to find out that his friend did not own a CD player.

“When I look at what we’re providing in terms of education, mentorship and training to senior Iraqi leadership,” he explained, “I always have in the back of my mind; ‘This is something that’s got to permeate down to those people who, like this one individual, don’t have things like computers, don’t have things like the Internet.3

Johnson did mention that he feels it will take many years to bring Iraqi up to date and into the 21st Century. However, the things our Troops are doing, will go along way towards helping them advance technologically. Without that help, they might have still remained 25 years behind, without the things that we as American see as necessities, things they never had the opportunity to have.

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One Response to “Helping Iraqis Bring Their Country Into The 21st Century”

  1. Peeter Gruner on August 19th, 2008 11:06 am

    We have to be very careful here! We talk about the 21st century as we know it - technologically very advanced, but also very materialistic and even hedonistic. Personally, having grown up in this society, accept it, although I have to shake my head at some of our excesses sometimes. But all peoples in the world, for a variety of reasons, do not aspire to our ‘level’ (our way) of life, and do not want to be led to this blissful new age. In Vietnam, I heard steadily from my Vietnamese friends the plaint: “You Americans do not know and understand 2000 years of Vietnamese culture”. And when I then countered: “That might be, but this is the end of the 20th century - don’t you want to join it?”, the answer was, “No, we’re satisfied with our culture, and do not want to be forced into something our society would not be comfortanle with.” One big reason why we are having such a big confrontation with the Islamic world today is that they do not see our way of life as consistent with their beliefs, and they want to resist the influence of our 21st century culture on them. The problem, of course, is that in their world, it’s the imams who largely determine and enforce what the people themselves would want. But a forceful dictate for them to join our 21st century world will certainly backfire, and create more animosity than leaving them progress at their own pace. We should only keep iterating that the people should be able to decide for themselves what they want, and not be dictated to by religious or political fanatics, or by the Western World.

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