Thursday, December 08, 2005

Say, Where Can I Buy Some of Those Rose-Colored Glasses?

Mr. Bush says Mosul and Najaf are signs of progress in the reconstruction of Iraq.

In a tale of two cities, President Bush yesterday heralded progress in northern Mosul and southern Najaf as new models for rebuilding Iraq.

But last Friday, Iraq's government imposed emergency law and a curfew in Sunni-dominated Mosul and throughout Ninevah province, and a senior U.S. official in Baghdad yesterday referred to the city of about 1.7 million as "nasty Mosul."

In Najaf, militia fighters of the two rival religious parties that control the Shiite holy city recently clashed in street battles. A few days ago, former prime minister Ayad Allawi was attacked during a visit by an angry, rock-throwing mob that some Iraqis charge was backed by a militia -- and that Allawi called an assassination attempt.

Mr. Bush says the rebuilding of the teaching hospital in Najaf is a sign of progress in the reconstruction of Iraq.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 - President Bush on Wednesday cited a teaching hospital in Najaf as perhaps the top example of a successful rebuilding project in Iraq. Since the American-led attack against local militias leveled large portions of Najaf in August 2004, however, the hospital has been most notable as a place where claims of success have fallen far short of reality.

During two visits to the hospital by reporters for The New York Times over the past year, the most recent in late summer, work on refurbishing it had been limited to largely cosmetic work like new ceilings and lighting and fresh paint. Critical medical
equipment was missing and the upper floors remained a chaotic mess.

Numerous Iraqis at the site said the hospital had not been ruined by the militia that occupied it during the 2004 fighting, but instead by looters who entered after the American military left it unguarded after the battle.


The hospital, named after Mr. Sadr's father, is an example of the slow pace of rebuilding. Wayne White, a former State Department official whose responsibilities included Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and who is now at the Middle East Institute, a research organization, said the American mission in Iraq was often undermined by that slow pace.

"Not only does it run far behind Iraqi expectations, but in some areas we have not even recovered to what Iraq was before the invasion," Mr. White said. He noted that some industries, including those involving metals and chemical production, still had not recovered from the invasion and the aftermath of looting, either.

A major problem with assessing the progress in Iraq is that it is too dangerous to allow visitors to visit the projects freely, said Rick Barton of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"I bet if we could get around and see these places that they would not be the story that he's telling," he said. "And I think he'd be shocked to see the story he's being fed."

He wouldn't be shocked. He knows he's being fed B.S. That's just how he wants it.
In other words, Mr. Bush is full of it.

Stunning to see the mainstream news media actually doing its job and reporting on Mr. Bush's half-truths -- and in real time, no less.


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