By Anthony Diaz
Saturday, March 15, 2008; Page A13
BAGHDAD — Since I arrived here last August, I have been struck by four things: the financial commitment we have made to reconstruction; the precipitous decline in violence; the inklings of representative government; and the small yet significant progress in communal relations between the mostly Shiite Iraqi army and the predominantly Sunni residents of this area. One often reads of the chaos plaguing Iraq. Yet the media accounts only infrequently seem to grasp the successes being achieved.
A U.S. Army flight medic Spc. Stacey Dill, 31, from Middletown, Calif., reaches up to clean equipment on her medevac team’s Black Hawk helicopter on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, March 15, 2008.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
My combat outpost sits along the Tigris River in a section of Baghdad known as Adhamiyah. It is enclosed by a wall that separates it from the predominantly Shiite eastern section of the city, similar to the wall that separates Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. Though a few Shiites remain within the enclosure, most have moved out, leaving a Sunni enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods.
American taxpayers well know that millions of dollars were squandered on poorly scrutinized projects. Our government dumped money into quick fixes with, for too long, little regard for the culture of dependency it was breeding. But much of this has changed. Yes, sustainable job creation was not initially a priority, and working-age residents of Adhamiyah remain dangerously underemployed. But in this area we have begun to create more permanent jobs.