Yes, they’ve had an election.  They’ve appointed a government.  I hear from Fox News that a new constitution is going to be rolled out any day now.

Freedom smells good doesn’t it?

But (you may inquire) what else is it bringing to those good Iraqis?  You know, the ones who pulled down that big ol statue of Saddam, the ones we went in to help liberate their country?  What has freedom done for them in addition to all that election stuff and dying their fingers purple and so on?  We don’t hear much about how freedom is impacting their daily lives, do we?

To find out the answers, I searched all the internets I knew about, and what I found is just after the fold.  Go on, take a peek.  You know you want to.
For one thing, we helped insure that the Iraqi people now have access to advanced medical care, like this story demonstrates:

Conditions of Medical Care     

Kathleen O’Malley, Christian Peacemaker Teams, 18 April 2005

We walked through the crowded Basrah markets stepping over garbage and trying to avoid pools of sewage water to get to the clinic of Dr. Al-Brhim*, an oncologist internationally known for his research on the impact of depleted uranium. I thought it had to be a mistake when we arrived at the narrow concrete stairs of a deteriorating building that led to his clinic. We waited with his patients in a small room with two worn wooden benches covered with old tattered cloth. The tile on the floor was old and cracked and the walls badly in need of repair and paint. The conditions were unsuitable for living, much less for medical care.

Eventually Dr. Al-Brhim graciously interrupted his schedule to meet with us and tell us about the state of medical care in Basrah, which he said has seriously deteriorated since the US-led invasion. Actually he said it is has gotten much worse in the last ten years. Medical care is still free for Iraqis but medications are scarce and there is an increase in cancer rates of all kinds, especially acute leukemia. Breast cancer is up 30%, and although in the U.S. where breast cancer is often treatable, Dr. Al-brhim said they don’t have even the basic therapies. He explained that no one is providing the medications and money that was promised. If and when any medications are delivered they are often close to expiration. In addition since the Iraqi government requires testing for its authenticity which takes about six months, by the time he receives them, the expiration date has passed. There is added chaos in the national health system because the Minister of Health position has changed hands three times since the occupation.

As well as the deterioration of the medical health care system, there is as well an increasing threat to the providers of treatment. The insurgency has been targeting physicians. Dr. Al-Ali mentioned at least a dozen who have been killed in the last several months, three in the last six weeks. Not only does he live under constant concern that his clinic will be looted, but also he lives under threat of his life. He has already received threats for the kidnapping of his children and has paid a ransom for their protection.

Ok, maybe that doesn’t adequately demonstrate the advantages of a free and independent Iraq as well as I had hoped.  But I’ve heard all sorts of good things (admmittedly mostly from my GOP Mom’s emails, but that’s a credible source in my book) about how we’ve built all these wonderful new schools so now Iraqi children can grow and learn without a culture of fear or intimidation from Baathist thugs.  Education is so important, as this story makes clear:

Security measures preventing school and work attendance

Report, IRIN, 19 April 2005

BAGHDAD — Students and government employees say that tight security on the streets of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, is preventing them from going to school and work. Some teachers say the situation is having a serious impact on education in the country.

According to the Ministry of Education (MoE), four colleges and 10 schools are suffering from road closures as a result of meetings called by the new national assembly. Some schools haven’t opened since the first assembly meeting two weeks ago.

“Every day I try to get to my college, but policemen have blocked the streets and it’s impossible to get there through other roads. Most of the main avenues in the capital have been closed and it is just delaying progress and our studies,” Mahmoud Obeid, 22, a medical student, told IRIN in Baghdad.

Well as we know, freedom can be a messy business sometimes.  Sometimes messier than others, I guess, according to this report:

Doctors fear hepatitis outbreak      

Report, IRIN, 18 April 2005

BAGHDAD — Doctors in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, fear an outbreak of hepatitis, following an increase in cases reported by the Infectious Diseases Control Centre (IDSC) last week.

Officials said the increase was due to poor sewage control, particularly in suburbs of the city.

Dr Abdul Jalil, director of the IDSC, told IRIN that there had been a 30 percent increase in hepatitis cases in March 2005 compared to the same period in 2004, and that open sewers and polluted water were exacerbating the problem.

Staff at the IDCC said that in March 2004, there were 615 cases of hepatitis registered, compared to 899 cases in the same month this year. In addition, last August, 1,298 cases were diagnosed, a sharp rise due to the weather conditions.

Jalil added that there had also been an increase in typhoid, tuberculosis (TB) and other water-borne diseases. He called for immediate action to control the situation.

“The system of sanitation in the capital should be fixed quickly. The Ministry of Public Works is moving slowly to solve this problem and it’s affecting the health of Iraqis,” Jalil explained.

In addition, Baghdad still has old sewage and water channels which haven’t been repaired. The channels often run beside each other and lack of electricity has caused water to be pumped at low pressure, causing sewage to seep into the fresh water delivery system.

According to Dr Haydar Shamari, director of the Iraqi National Centre for Blood Donation (INCBD), hepatitis was the first disease detected in contaminated blood samples. He added that hepatitis C, was very common, followed by type B, which is worrying doctors.

Well, freedom doesn’t work miracles overnight.  But at least the power is back on, right?

Iraqi power plants still lag

By Pamela Hess

Pentagon correspondent

Washington, DC, Mar. 4 (UPI) — Despite billions spent on reconstruction, Iraq’s power plants are producing less than half the electricity its 25 million people need, according to Defense Department officials.

. . .  Electricity continues to be a flash point for Iraqis. It’s the one facet of reconstruction that most Iraqis see and measure daily. They endure regular blackouts, and many rely on expensive private generators to heat and cool their homes in the absence of reliable power.

Baghdad and parts of the restive Sunni Triangle under the Saddam Hussein regime enjoyed nearly 24-hour electrical power at the expense of Shiite and Kurdish parts of the country. The dip in electrical availability in those heavily populated regions exacerbates the perception — and the reality — that reconstruction is not moving as quickly as expected.

Well, as my grandmother always said, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.  But pretty soon, I’m sure, the government will be running smoothly, the new Iraqi security forces will have it all under control and our boys can march home knowing the Iraqi people are safe and secure from all those evil terrorists.

This is a transcript from PM. The program is broadcast around Australia at 5:10pm on Radio National and 6:10pm on ABC Local Radio.

Friday, 29 April , 2005  18:15:20

Reporter: Edmond Roy

MARK COLVIN: More than a dozen people have been killed and scores more injured after a series of car bombs in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Four bombs went off in succession, then later there were another two.

Police say the bombs were apparently coordinated by insurgents who have been targeting Iraqi security forces.

The blasts claimed many civilian casualties though, and came just a day after Prime Minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, unveiled his new Cabinet.

Edmond Roy reports.

EDMOND ROY: The car bombs were targeted at Iraq’s security forces and has also succeeded in piling the pressure on the country’s new Government, a day after was formed.

The attacks in the Athamiya district, north of the capital, were believed to have been carried out by suicide bombers.

Two car bombs exploded in the town of Madaen, south-east of Baghdad; one targeting a police checkpoint and the second blowing up near a hospital.

All of this at a time when the political crisis in Baghdad shows no signs of being resolved.

After three months of political stalemate that had crippled its efforts to tackle the insurgency, Iraq’s formed its first democratically elected government in more than 50 years on Thursday.

But Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, failed to name permanent ministers to five key portfolios, including Oil and Defence at the same time as a top Sunni Muslim official criticised the new Government as sectarian.

Aren’t you glad we went to Iraq?  Isn’t imposing freedom like this worth any cost and isn’t it a bargain at any price?


Washington: From a row of silhouetted hearses on a rain-drenched tarmac to a convoy of olive-green trucks, each bearing a coffin, more than 700 images of flag-draped caskets of American service personnel killed at war have been released by the Pentagon in response to a lawsuit.

The photographs, taken by military photographers between 2001 and 2004, include one of a coffin containing the body of an American sailor sliding over the edge of the navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise during a burial-at-sea ceremony. Others show rows of coffins, and many depict solemn honour guard ceremonies for the fallen troops at US bases.

“This is an important victory for the American people, for the families of troops killed in the line of duty during wartime, and for the honour of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” said Ralph Begleiter, of the University of Delaware.

The release of the photographs was spurred by a lawsuit filed last October by Professor Begleiter. He had sought the release under the Freedom of Information Act.

“This significant decision by the Pentagon should make it difficult, if not impossible, for any US government in the future to hide the human cost of war from the American people,” Professor Begleiter said.

* * *


The Cost of War calculator is set to reach $207.5 billion at the end of fiscal year 2005 (September 30, 2005). The Cost of War calculator is occasionally reset based on new information and new allocations of funding.

The amount is based on the National Priorities Project analysis of what Congress has allocated for the Iraq War, plus the most recent request by the Bush Administration for additional funding. To date, four supplemental requests have been made by the Administration for funding, and Congress has appropriated funding with only minor changes to the first three. The first included approximately $54.4 billion for the Iraq War (enacted in April 2003); the second $70.6 billion (enacted November 2003), and the third $21.5 billion (passed as part of regular appropriations for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2005). The Administration made a fourth request in February 2005 for $81.9 billion of which $61 billion is related to the Iraq War. Numbers will be revised again when Congress passes new legislation.

Our figures include military operations, reconstruction and other spending related to the Iraq invasion and occupation. Spending only includes “incremental” costs, additional funds that are expended due to the war. For example, soldiers’ regular pay is not included, but combat pay is included. Potential future costs, such as future health care for soldiers and veterans wounded in the war, are not included. It is also not clear whether the current funding will cover all military wear and tear. It also does not account for the contribution of war spending to the deficits incurred in the federal budget. In other words, we have not included the cost of interest on the debt.

Click on this LINK to get the current running total using this calculator.

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