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Positive News From Iraq

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BAGHDAD (AFP) – Kassim used to teach geography in the morning and spend afternoons repairing shoes in the streets of the central Iraqi town of Azizyah. Those days are over.

Iraq’s 300,000 teachers have seen vast changes since the regime of Saddam Hussein fell in April 2003, and Kassim can now feed his four children without having to cobble a living together.

From an average monthly salary of 10,000 dinars (around two-three dollars at the time) plus food subsidies, they can now earn 300,000-400,000 (200-270 dollars).

The result, says 40-year-old English teacher Jawad Mizhr, is that they can now do their job.

Such is the difference that retired teachers want their old jobs back, if only for a year or two so they can qualify for vastly improved pensions.

[…]

Within the ministry, the atmosphere is much better and teachers can now speak their minds, but there is a surplus of specialised teachers in areas like English and science in some schools and not enough in others, he said.

Some materials were also now out of date. “We’re still using old textbooks, we’ve just removed the pictures of Saddam.”

Sounds like the Iraqi people are more positive about their future than the anti-war Left is…

It should be noted that Iraq’s educational system has at least one distinct advantage over the American system: They don’t have an NEA!

Now back to your regularly-scheduled hand-wringing over “Koran abuse”…

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About RJ

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    Did you not get the memo from cBS… there is no positive news allowed in Iraq…

  • HW Saxton

    Good tag line, RJ.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Good post, RJ. It’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the progress in Iraq, but a nice story.

    Dave

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/dorksandlosers Tan Hoang

    Now if only the government can improve education here, then the US might not fall into ruins.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Amen!

  • http://www.blogforarizona.com Michael

    It is not the left wringing their hands over any abuse of the Koran, it is the Administration which is assiduously keeping the press focused on that completely marginal issue to prevent people from looking at the real human rights disaster happening in American military detainee camps.

    Great that teachers have higher pay, but it’s rather beside the point when you and your students are afraid to go to class because of suicide bombers and American ‘collateral damage’. or that you can’t use modern equipment because of power outages. Pretty lame actually that this is the only material advance in the conditions of the Iraqi people you could come up with.

  • MCH

    “Sounds like the Iraqi people are more positive about their future than the anti-war Left is.”
    – R.J. (Bobby) Elliott

    Bobby, a number of your so-called “anti-war Left” are veterans who’ve actually served in the military; unlike yourself and many of the pro-war Right who’ve never served, but safely “support” the invasion while staying home – as long as someone else does the actual fighting (and dying) over there…

    Veterans Against the Iraq War
    http://www.vaiw.org/vet
    Iraq Veterans Against the Iraq war
    http://www.ivaw.net

  • SFC SKI

    True, MCH, but a lot of the anti-war crowd are not veterans. Considering how many people haven’t served in uniform, that’s no surprise. Unfortunataly, a lot of anti-war folks who romanticize their lost youth of campus are trying to relive it by throwing the template of Vietnam over Iraq, and it doesn’t fit too well.

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “They don’t have an NEA!”

    Why do they need an NEA? THEY are getting raises? Maybe if conservatives would support OUR teachers and give OUR teachers raises, our teachers wouldn’t NEED Unions.

    Oh, but I forget, what’s good for Iraq is BAD for America. The old up is down, right is left thing. Teachers getting raises in Iraq is proof of goodness. Teachers and unions getting raises in America is proof of badness.

    This talk of government employees being better paid than they were should be proof of just how BAD things are going in Iraq…

    The Iraqi government better lay these people off and start handing out school vouchers for religous and other private schools, these Iraqi people are SO out of touch with the American conservative ideals.

  • SFC SKI

    BTP, I think that the US federal government does not pay school teachers in the US. I am not sure what point you are trying to make.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>Oh, but I forget, what’s good for Iraq is BAD for America. The old up is down, right is left thing. Teachers getting raises in Iraq is proof of goodness. Teachers and unions getting raises in America is proof of badness.<<

    No, BTP. Teachers getting raises is good everywhere, so long as it doesn’t come at the expense of the quality of education for the kids they’re teaching.

    The NEA lowering the quality of education for kids by opposing reforms in school administration and structure is inherently bad.

    Universally around the world, what’s good for kids is good. Sometimes raising teacher salaries is good for kids as well as the teachers. In America changing how schools are organized and financed would be even better for kids. Since the NEA opposes this, the NEA is not good for kids.

    Dave

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Here’s more news from the front.

    It’s not all cotton candy and ice cream out there.

  • SFC SKI

    A prime example of the editorial opinion being presented as fact.

    I won’t deny that the incidents referred to didn’t happen, but some of those incidents were rare occurrences, many months or years out of date, written by someoen who sounds like he never left the AL-Rasheed Hotel, but got his info second or third hand.

    To be sure it is not all ice cream and pony rides in Iraq, but IEDs and casualties are page one, and school opening are buried several pages in, and below the fold.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    The piece I presented was one journalist’s perspective after spending a long period of time in the country.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    and rj’s initial quote somehow isn’t “editorial opinion being represented as fact”?

  • Michael

    “someoen who sounds like he never left the AL-Rasheed Hotel”

    you mean someone who COULDN’T leave the Al Rasheed for fear of his life, don’t you?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Eric, the article you provided a link to is almost exactly a year old. Do you think it accurately reflects the current situation in Iraq? You don’t think conditions have improved since then?

    Perhaps a more recent and more pertinent article on conditions in Iraq would help illuminate the situation for you should check out this article.

    Dave

  • SFC SKI

    No, I stand by what I wrote. He could take the risk, but perhaps he chose not to. It’s fine not to take the risk but have the integrity to file the byline as “Overheard at the bar of the Al-Rasheed Hotel”.

    Now, maybe I shouldn’t impugn this guy’s courage, for all I know he was all over the Sunni Triangle and Sadr City, but that doesn’t come out in what he wrote. Also, look at his comment on the the military; he compliments them but the only actions he has as examples are ones caused by language barriers, and this ties into his next implication that the morale is low and they return to shattered lives and marriages. Again, these are comments that are more hearsay then having actually interacted or interviewed soldiers. In short, it sounds like he wrote the editorial based on reading only his magazines coverage.

    Again, I don’t want to make Iraq sound like a garden spot, but let’s get the good and bad out there and give people in the US full coverage to let them see that what is achieved in Iraq as well as what the military faces, then they can decided if it’s worth fighting for.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Dave – The piece I linked to is from the June 13, 2005 issue of Newsweek.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Ah, so it’s future news? Damn those sneaky bastards for dating their magazines ahead to increase shelf life.

    In my defense, it sure didn’t read like any news I’ve seen coming out of Iraq in the last 6 months.

    Dave

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Well, it’s from someone who has been there for two years.

    Draw your own conclusions…

  • SFC SKI

    EB, it’s possible to spend a lot of time in Iraq safely ensconced and insulated from day to day reality “outside the wire”. Again, I could be wrong, this guy may have been all over Iraq, I just don’t see it in what he writes, it doesn’t mesh with what I have experienced there or with what a lot of my colleagues or Milbloggers in country are writing.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Yep, you’re right, SFC. It’s just one person’s opinion based upon what he saw. However, what he writes about — the conditions/morale inside the wire — is fairly alarming.

  • SFC SKI

    A soldier’s last inalienable right is to bitch, I worry when they stop. “Acting like Nightclub Bouncers” sounds a little like he was upset that soldiers generall speak in loud tones and hustle people along at entry points, usually because they’d like to spend more time looking for suicide bombers than bending a knee to
    politicians or reporters.

    I spent very little time living in the Green Zone, passing through it from A to B, but even then it wasn’t as bad as he suggests. He might mention that the reason the garbage doesn’t always get picked up is bcause insurgent have a habit of shooting the garbage collectors, and hijacking thte trucks to build bombs into. Changes the equation, doesn’t it?

    It’s an editorial, and if he is a pessiminst, so be it.

  • http://www.bigtimepatriot.com Big Time Patriot

    “BTP, I think that the US federal government does not pay school teachers in the US. I am not sure what point you are trying to make.”

    Well, the point wasn’t whether it was the “federal” governments or the “state” governments pay for teachers, the point was that government pays for teachers.

    And government spending is bad in America correct? Less government spending, more tax cuts for our oppressed rich people, correct?

    So a report of increased government spending in Iraq should not be considered good news by conservatives should it?

    Did I miss some exception where American conservatives were ever willing to pay MORE taxes to improve education? Not in the last 10 years that I can remember.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    He might mention that the reason the garbage doesn’t always get picked up is bcause insurgent have a habit of shooting the garbage collectors, and hijacking thte trucks to build bombs into. Changes the equation, doesn’t it?

    I think part of the point is that if garbage collectors are getting shot in the Green Zone — theoretically the safest place for coalition forces in Iraq — then it’s not a very good sign.

  • MCH

    “Eric, the article you provided a link to is almost exactly a year old.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Pretty scary when a former history teacher can’t even tell the difference between 2004 and 2005. I guess that’s why he’s a FORMER teacher…

    “Oh, so it’s future news? Damn those sneaky bastards for dating their magazines ahead to increase shelf life.”
    – Dave Nalle

    So typical of Nalle, whenever he makes a mistake, it’s always somebody elses fault. When are you gonna take responsibility for your own actions, Nalle?

    “In my defense, it sure didn’t read like any news I’ve seen coming out of Iraq in the last six months.”
    – Dave Nalle

    And also true to form, Nalle can never fess-up to a mistake like a man and admit that he was wrong about something…

  • http://www.publichealthpage.com MDE

    re: “let’s get the good and bad out there and give people in the US full coverage to let them see that what is achieved in Iraq as well as what the military faces, then they can decided if it’s worth fighting for.”

    SFC Ski gets the award for ‘quote of the thread’.

    good news

    bad news

    Mark

  • http://www.publichealthpage.com MDE

    more crappy news from Iraq

    sad news

    Someone needs to help me out with some good news stories…Hey SFC how about some links to those milbloggers.

    Mark

  • http://www.publichealthpage.com MDE

    Here’s what the socialists are reporting about the depleted uranium bad news.

    And not everyone thinks that it’s total BS. See Connecticut’s recent action

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    They need to look for other possible causes of birth defects before they try to pin it on the DU weapons. The endless petroleum fires are a much more likely cause than DU. Also, the cancer research needs to focus not on the overall rise of cancer, but on the incidence of specific unusual cancers associated with radiation, because radiation doesn’t just cause an increase in cancer overall, it causes specific types of cancer.

    The UN and the US DoD and other groups have done studies on the residue of the DU weapons and the general conclusion has been that unless you ingest the DU casing or it somehow gets into your bloodstream it’s basically harmless.

    Dave

  • SFC SKI

    The DU argument has ben made before, but I don’t believe it has been proven.

    As for MilBlogs, here is a place to start: http://www.mudvillegazette.com/
    this site does referrals and trackbacks, and has one of the largest blogrolls for both Military and Iraqi blogs, another source I should have mentioned.

  • http://www.publichealthpage.com MDE

    re the DU question: research (hopefully well constructed) will tell.

    re: ” here is a place to start: mudvillegazette

    thanks for the link –

    Mark

  • http://www.publichealthpage.com MDE

    Here’s a BBC link of interest – it contains numerous descriptions of everyday life in Iraq.

    Mark

  • SFC SKI

    That was a really useful set of interviews, thanks.

    If there is one great thing about the internet it is that there is information out there if not readily apparent.

    10 or 15 years ago, these interviews might have been in a TV or radio feature, much as they are now on some news services, but if you missed the broadcst, you missed out. Now the information may lie dormant, but it is still retrievable, and very easily.

  • SFC SKI

    Here’s an opinion piece, but it presents a lot of facts as well

    I really have to re-read that article on posting links.

  • SFC SKI

    Thanks for the assist.

    I really like this site, too:
    http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    From what I’ve read through all these links it looks like Iraq is doing pretty well with recovery overall, so long as you’re not in Baghdad. It sounds as if the terrorists resources are running thin and they’re focusing everything in the Baghdad area and leaving more and more of the rest of the country alone.

    Dave