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Topic: Reconstruction
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Daily Column
Getting Back in the Game at Walter Reed, "The Surge" Book
By DANIEL W. SMITH 07/07/2009 03:00 AM ET
Another very light day for Iraq news. Though the death of Robert S. McNamara led to a few indirect Iraq references, and the Washington Post picked up an AP briefing of violence in Baghdad and Mosul, there really wasn’t much today, and nothing filed from Iraq. There was a piece on disabled veterans, a book review, and an opinion.

IN the Wall Street Journal, John Nagl (president of the Center for a New American Security) and Daniel Rice (partner and co-founder of The Marshall Fund), both graduates of West Point who have served in Iraq, write that America must more effectively shift its focus from combat to post-conflict operations. Though millions are being spent on reconstruction, short-term needs are what is being paid-attention to, not sustainable development.
Instead of spending billions of taxpayer dollars for short-term programs, the enterprise funds could create long-term growth and employment in Iraq while giving U.S. taxpayers a return on their investment in the form of a share of profits going back to the USAID -- while appreciably diminishing support for the insurgency.

As we withdraw from Iraq's cities we must seek to replace our bases with businesses. An enterprise fund for Iraq is a good way to start the process of achieving victory through economic development.
The Washington Post’s Alan Goldenbach reports on The positive effects of Wheelchair Basketball, played by amputee veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "When the war started I heard about these guys coming home and I wanted to do something to give back," said (Coach Jim) Glatch, who is not disabled and has coached at Edinboro since 1995. "These guys think athletics are shut off from them, but they're not."
That was the first lesson (Spec. Alex) Knapp had to learn. He lost both of his legs to a makeshift bomb in Iraq in March 2008. As someone who had grown up playing hockey in Shelby Township, Mich., Knapp, 23, was crushed by the thought of living without sports. "At first, I did think it was over," he said. "Then I learned how much there is for us to do. It surprised me, for sure. None of us believe we've left anything behind."

Before they hit the court, though, each patient needs to leave a critical item at the door: his memory. All of them viewed getting a prosthesis as monumental progress in their rehabilitation. It meant increased mobility and a clear path toward eventual independence. But when they got onto the basketball court, took off their prostheses and sat back in their wheelchairs, many returned to a place they hoped never to encounter again. Glatch acknowledged, "There's this thought that amputees should not get involved in wheelchair sports," because it could be a psychological setback.
“The Surge: A Military History”, the newly-minted book by Kimberly Kagan, president of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, is out. Brendan Simms gives it a positive review in the Wall Street Journal. Though the review says the book reads in such a way as to suggest it was rushed to publication, it is still called “essential reading for anyone who wants to know how Iraq was saved from the brink of disaster.” Simms seems to writes from the point of view that all that happens in Iraq has to do only with Americans, but he put some real thought into the review.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, Kimberly Kagan followed events on the ground closely, traveled frequently to the theater of operations, and conducted interviews with senior and mid-ranking officers. In "The Surge: A Military History," she avoids the pitfalls of the war-reporting genre -- oversold incidents of dramatic action, fulsome adoration of warrior-leaders -- and instead gives a sober, blow-by-blow account of events as they unfolded. Along the way, she describes the strategy that proved to be so successful.
Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, no original Iraq coverage.
Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at

The Latest
Southern Province Opening Five "State-of the Art" Police Facilities
06/23/2009 6:22 PM ET
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Iraqi police in the southern province of Muthanna have opened several new buildings belonging to the local police forces including new operations centers and command rooms throughout the governorate.

Col. Kadhim Abu al-Hil, director of Muthanna Police, has announced that contributions from “donor countries” funded the construction, without elaborating.

The new facilities contain barracks and command rooms and are mounted with electronically-controlled surveillance cameras throughout, the officer added.

The Hay al-Husayn police building was opened in central Samawa, the provincial capital, containing 48 rooms and “state of the art” electronic surveillance apparatus, said Abu al-Hil, adding that the project cost upwards of 150 billion Iraqi dinars.

Another police station has opened in the al-Khadar area province and four others, also described as “advanced” in their capabilities, are due to open in Samawa, Rumaytha, and the al-Hilal areas of the province. All are to feature advanced technologies for use in law enforcement, the Muthanna police commander said.

The Latest
17 Percent of Exiles Have University Degrees
06/22/2009 8:32 PM ET
The government of Iraq issued a call on Monday to professors living abroad to return to the country to use their expertise in rebuilding the country.

Once boasting one of the most educated populations in the Middle East with a well-funded education program, Iraq's educated classes were devastated by years of economic sanctions, war and sectarian and criminal violence.

Although the level of violence has dropped in the country over the last two years, hundreds of Iraq's professors have not returned, al-Malaf Press writes in Arabic.

Sadiq al-Rikabi, the political advisor to Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki said at the beginning of a three-day conference organized by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher education and Technology that Iraq’s professors are an integral piece of Iraqi society and could affect the future of the Iraqi economy should they choose to return.

At least 350,000 Iraqis living in exile have university diplomas, or about 17 percent of the roughly two million Iraqis who have left the country since 2003, the agency adds.

About 200 Iraqi professors came to the gathering in Baghdad, al-Malaf Press writes, some of whom expressed misgivings at the idea of returing to a country where violence continues to smolder.

Muhammad al-Rabi'i, an Iraqi professor of engineering at Dublin University reportedly told Reuters that he planned only to make short visits to Iraq, adding that while many professors did not seek to return to Iraqi to reside, but suggested that short-term projects involving expatriate experts could still benefit the country.

The Latest
Local Gov't and Iraqi Municipal Affairs Ministry in Joint Request
06/17/2009 8:04 PM ET
Local authorities in the southern province of Basra have teamed with the Iraqi municipal affairs ministry to seek local possession of lands held by the Iraqi Defense Ministry in the oil-rich city, in order to turn the lands from military to civilian use.

The Iraqi Ministry of Municipalities and Public Employment, along with the Basra Provincial Council have requestd that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense turn over lands owned by the Defense Ministry to municipal control for use in the urban planning of the city.

Jabbar Amin, the head of the Basra Provincial Council, confirmed to al-Malaf Press that there is an agreement between the Basra Provincial Council and the Iraqi Ministry of Municipalities and Public Employment to request several pieces of land belonging to the MoD be transferred to the municipal government of Basra for use in large-scale urban planning programs for the city, the agency reports in Arabic.

Amin added that the lands are in various areas of the city of Basra, and could be ecploited by the Basra municipality for investment in projects in the interest of the citizens of Basra.

Local officials seek to turn the land over to profitable purposes, or to host public housing to address a residential shortage in the province, the agency writes.

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense enjoys land holdings in the strategic city of Basra, much of it unused since the fall of the Ba'thist regime in 2003, al-Malaf Press notes.

Only on Slogger
"60 Percent" of Hospital Cases Related to Water-Borne Illness, Doc Says
By SLOGGER NETWORK 06/09/2009 9:02 PM ET
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Amid warnings of an outbreak of water-borne diseases, health officials in the southern Iraqi province of Maysan have destroyed 23,000 liters (over 5,000 gallons) of locally produced soda on the grounds that the drinks, produced with local water, were unfit for human consumption.

The sodas were destroyed last week in the provincial capital of Amara, where health officials have long said that potable water resources are inadequate.

An official in the al-Sadr Hospital in Amara told Slogger that as many as 60 percent of cases in the hospital were related to water-borne illnesses and diarrhea-type symptoms, which the doctor blamed on the use of unpurified river water along with deteriorating water quality in the Tigris River.

The water-borne illnesses affected children most aggressively, the doctor added, explaining that infants and young children have less immunity to such diseases.

Cholera disease has become a perennial fear in Iraq, especially during the warmer seasons, following the repeated outbreak of the deadly water-borne illness in various parts of the country over the last several years.


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