There are so many signs of progress despite the recent violence in Northern Iraq. And certainly that can be expected: There is a stark contrast between the rule of Saddam, the takers and destroyers, and the American lead Coalition: builders and givers. And where good presumes to, it prevails and finds a way.
In the past the soldiers would go in and organize city councils, decide what project was most urgent, and point a finger at the local contractor that was chosen to do it. Now the soldiers attend the meetings, where the city councils discuss their needs, pick the project, let local contractors bid for it, and collect payment from the Americans at its conclusion. They are learning democracy.
There are still frustrations. The soldiers have remarked sometimes it’s like trying to shovel a hole in water--it just fills right back in. The contractors are still prone to bribing the council to pick them, for example. But I think it‘s true that good things also take time and enduring effort.
The help of the Americans is not lost on the Kurds at least. Sometimes all they have to thank the Americans for all the help and the release from their former homicidal oppressor is some lunch, and perhaps the greatest treasures of all: Trust and Friendship. You can see such expressions of appreciation in the “picnic” below.