Thursday, June 01, 2006

Can you tell the difference between these two passages?

Passage 1:

Last year [the occupied country] earmarked more than...$108.4 million for rural road construction. It also had 2,998 kilometers of rural highways built or upgraded and 101 large and medium-sized bridges constructed. Now highways extend to 92 percent of the towns and townships and to 70 percent of the villages in the region.
Passage 2:
...[Country A] has helped [the people of Country B] conduct nearly 3,000 renovation projects at schools, train more than 30,000 teachers, distribute more than 8 million textbooks, rebuild irrigation infrastructure to help more than 400,000 rural [citizens of Country B], and improve drinking water for more than 3 million people. [Country A] has helped [the people of Country B] introduce a new currency, reopen their stock exchange, and extend $21 million in micro-credit and small business loans.
Passage 1 is an excerpt from a Chinese newspaper praising the country's progress in Tibet, a country China has occupied for 56 years. Passage 2 is taken from the United State's government's official website, it is describing the improvements made to Iraq during our reconstruction/occupation. The similarities between the Chinese article and the government report are unnerving. Success is measured through construction projects and infrastructure-building, necessary tasks to be sure.

But there is a whole other facet of reconstruction that is being ignored, something just as important as new roads, schools and hospitals. They fail to assess the struggle to garner the Iraqi's favor, which cannot be represented in dollar signs or decimal points. By and large the issue is downplayed in the American press because we are failing in our PR campaign. Events such as Abu Graib and, most recently, the Haditha massacre, confirm the people's opinion about the West. This region was ruled by a tyrant drunk on bloodlust for 34 years and his citizens suffered under US/UK imposed sanctions, no wonder the psyche of the population is deeply scarred and hesistant toward our "gift of freedom." It is incumbent upon the occupying force to earn the consent of the populace of the occupied territory. We have yet to accomplish that.


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