Wednesday, December 07, 2005

President Bush: Progress in Iraq

President Bush spoke today to the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan think tank. Bush highlighted progress made in Iraq. At the time of my posting, CNN had one article of 920 words while Fox News had two articles (one from the President’s view and one for the Democratic response) totaling 3539 words. I decided I would take a look at a section of each article with almost identical sub-headings; CNN with “Najaf, Mosul cited as examples” and Fox with “Progress in Najaf, Mosul.”

CNN discounts the selected examples by noting that these are cities “where relatively few insurgent attacks occur.” A few paragraphs later CNN adds “Neither city lies in the Sunni Triangle in central Iraq, the area where most insurgent attacks have taken place.” Fox, on the other hand, indicates that these are good examples in that these cities were “once the sites of some of the bloodiest battles of the war.”

I pulled out the specific references to progress in Najaf and these are indicated in the table below. CNN makes some brief general statements while Fox goes into much greater detail.

CNN

FOX

U.S. and Iraq officials "worked with Najaf's governor and other local officials to rebuild the local police force, repair residents' homes, refurbish schools, restore water and other essential service, reopen a soccer stadium, complete with new lights and fresh sod."

But when the militias were routed, Najaf began to blossom, the president said, quoting one Najaf resident by saying: "Three years ago, we were in ruins, one year ago we were fighting in the streets, now look at us — shopping and eating."

Although there's still plenty of work to be done in Najaf and around Iraq, and reconstruction has been full of "fits and starts" in terms of sustained electricity and making sure the influence of armed gangs is reduced, Bush said progress in Najaf includes:

— Rebuilding of the local police force with the help of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Najaf's governor and other local officials;

— Repair of schools and homes and the rebuilding of a soccer stadium;

— Restoration of clean drinking water;

— The opening of new businesses and markets even in some of the poorest areas;

— Visits by religious pilgrims;

— Creation of construction jobs that are putting people back to work;

— Return of the Najaf Teaching Hospital, which was looted and used as a military fortress by militias and is now open to serve hundreds of patients each day.

"Najaf is now in the hands of elected government officials, and elected provincial officials are at work," Bush said, adding that U.S. forces are 40 minutes outside the city and only go into Najaf when called.

"They have no intention of returning to the days of tyranny and terror," the president said of the residents in Najaf.

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/12/07/bush.iraq/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,177925,00.html

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