Saturday, May 19, 2007

A few of the facts about Iraq

A few of the facts about Iraq
Lincoln Journal Star by Senator Chuck Hagel

May 9th, 2007 - The May 6 Lincoln Journal Star editorial headlined “Visitors see what they believe in Iraq” quoted my friend and former colleague the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan saying, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” The editorial highlighted differing views that my Nebraska colleagues and I hold regard to progress in Iraq.

As Gen. Petraeus and Secretary Gates have said, the solution to Iraq will be a political, not a military solution. We have done much for the Iraqis at a cost of 3,400 American casualties, 25,000 wounded and almost $500 billion, but we cannot do it for them. The Iraqis are going to have to achieve a political reconciliation. We can’t do it for them. In our fifth year in Iraq, things are not getting better. These are the facts:

* Last month, we lost 104 U.S. troops — the deadliest month for the United States so far in 2007 and one of the highest death toll months in the more than four years we’ve been in Iraq. So far in the first seven days of May, 25 U.S. troops have been killed.

* The death toll of Iraqi security forces and civilian population remains well over 1,500 per month and reached 3,014 deaths in February — the start of the U.S. “surge.”

* Attacks on the once secure Green Zone have increased dramatically this year, killing Americans. Last month, a suicide bomber breached the security of the Green Zone for the first time, killing one lawmaker and wounding many others in the Iraqi parliament building’s dining hall.

* The number of attacks against U.S. forces using explosively formed projectile bombs, capable of piercing an Abrams tank, hit a record high of 65 last month.

* Overall attacks using roadside bombs doubled from 2006 to 2007 and currently number about 1,200 a month.

* The Iraqi government is in danger of collapse. Last month, six Shia ministers, members of the prime minister’s own party, withdrew from the government demanding that U.S. troops leave Iraq; this week, key Sunni leaders are threatening to leave the government to protest their treatment by the Shia-led government.

* De-Baathification reform and national oil law legislation have not been passed by the Parliament with no sign of progress. No new provincial elections have been approved by the Parliament.

* A month ago, one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, the king of Saudi Arabia, called U.S. involvement in Iraq an “illegitimate foreign occupation.”

* Of the 34,000 registered physicians in Iraq before the U.S. invasion, it is estimated that 12,000 have fled and 2,250 have been killed or kidnapped.

* According to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, the war in Iraq has already produced 4 million refugees.

* Crime is rampant in Iraq, and the police force has been devastated by corruption.

* Electricity availability averages less than 12 hours daily nationwide and 5.6 hours daily in Baghdad, well below what Iraqis had before the United States invaded Iraq.

* Oil production is at 2.1 million barrels per day. Prior to the war, oil production averaged 2.6 million barrels per day.

* The U.S. inspector general for Iraq reconstruction’s most recent report found that “persistent attacks on U.S.-funded infrastructure projects and sustainment challenges could jeopardize the completion of projects by their planned end-dates of mid- to late-2008.“

* The report also found corruption rampant in the Iraqi government. An investigation found that seven of eight reconstruction projects declared by the United States to be successes no longer were operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of maintenance and apparent looting. This is resulting in hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that have been unaccounted for, wasted or stolen.

* The United States is doing great damage to its active duty and National Guard force structure, which will take years to repair.

These are but some of the facts that led to my judgment that Iraq is “worse off than it has ever been” following my fifth visit there.

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