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4/4/04 - AN IRAQI CHECKLIST - 2004-04-05

The year since a U.S.-led coalition freed the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein has brought many advances. Slowly, but surely, the foundation for democracy is being built.

Violent attacks continue in Iraq, but as one Iraqi said of the terrorists and their allies, “They are spitting in the face of the wind.” That comment appeared on an Internet web site. It is one of many, says U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, “where Iraqis are taking advantage of modern technology to give voice to their newfound freedom.”

Another web site has a picture of Iraqi women protesting against Resolution 137 passed by the Iraqi Governing Council, which threatened women’s rights. “We didn’t wait all these years without the most basic rights to be denied them now,” said one woman. The resolution now lies dormant.

President George W. Bush says that for the Iraqi people, Saddam Hussein’s removal “was the beginning of their deliverance”:

“The liberation of Iraq was good for the Iraqi people, good for America, and good for the world. The fall of the Iraqi dictator has removed a source of violence, aggression, and instability from the Middle East.”

Today Iraq is on the path to sovereignty on June 30th. An interim constitution has been adopted guaranteeing Iraqis basic rights. These include freedom of religion and freedom of expression, the right to assemble peacefully, and the right to equal treatment under the law.

Iraqis have access to independent sources of news, including newspapers, radio stations, and television networks. There are over one-hundred Iraqi newspapers and seventy radio stations. The Iraqi justice system is operating. Electricity levels exceed the pre-war capacity. Iraq’s 2004 budget for health care is nine-hundred-fifty-million dollars. The old regime spent only sixteen-million dollars in 2002. Iraq’s infrastructure is being rebuilt, with its oil industry now producing two-million-five-hundred-thousand barrels daily.

“Whatever it takes,” says President Bush, “we will fight and work to assure the success of freedom in Iraq.”