Wednesday, May 14, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Elsewhere in Iraq

While the administration scrambles to improve order and security in Baghdad, it's worth noting that post-war reconstruction is progressing in other places -- like Mosul. This Chicago Tribune story does an excellent job of contrasting the situation in Mosul with Baghdad:

As Baghdad pops with daily gunfire and limps along with intermittent electricity and water, Mosul has accomplished near wonders under the active command of an American general: Water flows from taps, road crews pick up trash, and Iraqi police and U.S. troops, working side by side, patrol the streets.....

In this tale of two cities, Mosul is an unlikely success. The sprawling northern hub of 2 million--a combustible mix of Iraqis, Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians that American forces feared would roil with ethnic warfare--became the first place, early this month, to hold local elections for an interim government. And it was one of the swiftest to open its government bank vault to dole out back pay to Iraqi workers.

Read the whole story, and it's clear that a big reason for this is the sage leadership of Major General David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. The story notes the following

The commanding general, Petraeus, fresh from battle in the south, said he quickly adapted his force of 17,000 to the needs of Mosul's 2 million people. The infantry walked along the streets to convey a sense of order. The first day in town, Petraeus went on Al Jazeera television to talk about the future of Iraq.

Petraeus soon found that people in Mosul were eager for direction. A manager from the local airport knocked on his door. Could Petraeus give him the authority to call back workers? Yes, the general replied, sending armed soldiers to help.

The head of the central bank phoned. He had money to pay government workers, but no one in Baghdad could give him the authority to open the vaults. Petraeus, writing on 101st Airborne stationery, commanded that the cash flow begin.

And then Petraeus embarked on a political campaign unlike anything Iraqis who were interviewed for this story had ever seen. He and his aides contacted tribal leaders, Kurds, Arabs, former military officials and former police and rounded them up for talks.

Every day, for nine straight days and for three to five hours at a time, Petraeus urged and cajoled the townsmen of Mosul to figure out what they could do for Iraq.

The 50-year-old general, a West Point graduate who has a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University, appealed to the Iraqis' sense of duty, knowing that Mosul had been an important source of generations of military men. (emphasis added)

I don't mean to suggest that training in international relations improves one's ability to engage in post-war reconstruction. [Yeah, right--ed.]

Seriously, it seems pretty clear that Petraeus's actions should be a template for Baghdad and elsewhere.

posted by Dan on 05.14.03 at 10:35 AM