Iraqis deserve a choice


Published: Sunday, January 4, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 3, 2004 at 9:29 p.m.

An article by Edward Wong of The New York Times begins: "Hussain Khalaf Tuma's mood was as foul as the smoke belching from the oil refinery nearby." Wong goes on to state that Tuma is one of the Qaissy tribesmen who sit guard under a clothe lean-to protecting a portion of pipeline that runs to Baghdad. He is paid $2 a day. The money is very low and the extreme cold and heat is difficult to bear.

Despite protection by the tribesmen, the pipelines are being sabotaged and severe gasoline shortages in Iraq are a factor in the near civil unrest erupting in parts of the country. The article also mentions Halliburton and a lack of equipment repairs, and even the fact that under Saddam Hussein's regime the pipelines were well-guarded.

Really?

In the Boston Globe, a Globe correspondent details the "bitter disappointment" a primary-school principal, Fawzyia al Ali feels. The article states that after "a month and $38,000 from the U.S. government later, she was left with bitter disappointment and a pool of raw sewage on the playground."

Her school is not the only school complaining about work done by the Bechtel International Systems, Inc. (USA). Unfortunately for the Iraqi school children, "Iraqi school officials were sidelined and told that those holding the purse strings would make the decisions."

How totally democratic! No, no, I mean how Republican of them!

Ah yes, the nonpartisan government contractor! They have a talent for lining their pockets with the taxpayers' money. Is it now anti-democratic to allow a people the right to determine their own future, even in something so basic as allowing the Iraqis the right to rebuild their own country?

Given the shoddy reconstruction efforts being forced on the Iraqis, is anyone surprised that on Christmas Day an article appeared in The Gainesville Sun noting that on Christmas Eve, "guerrillas fired a mortar shell that hit an upper floor of a Baghdad hotel filled with Western contractors and journalists."

President Bush should support Iraqi efforts to rebuild their country and shape their own destiny. He owes the Iraqis this much - at least until after the next election, when he will be obligated to pay back his wealthy campaign contributors.

Diane Forkel,

Gainesville

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