In the prewar planning it has been reported that the revenues from the oil wealth would go to rebuild the country's infrastructure quickly, but so far that is not even close to happening. The U.S. continues to have to provide billions of dollars to pay for the U.S. troop presence, the rebuilding of the infrastructure and to support the new Iraqi leaders.
When the situation stabilizes and oil revenues begin to come in, the government will have to prevent or avoid the corruption that is widely reported in other oil rich underdeveloped countries.
Deana Rincker from Champaign, Ill., asks: What's life like for the soldiers? I know there is alot of good things going on. What are they?
Answer: Good things that have happened:
Freedom to travel has been restored.
Freedom for Shias to worship on their religious holidays.
No fear that Saddam's henchmen will come and arrest people.
There are also more cell phones and Internet connections and contact with the outside world.
The marshes are being refilled and a way of life for the Marsh Arabs is being restored.
Improvement of salaries and pensions (wages have gone up).
The fighting Kurdish factions have reconciled to form a unified regional government.
There have also been a lot of improvements to try and bring the country back to prewar levels. But most Iraqis don't see that as progress, they see it as rebuilding and many are frustrated by the slow pace and the constant setback due to the security situation.
There are small things that happen every day; simple acts that bring happiness for an individual or group. An ice cream store, a traditional musician performs, a play for children, a new Internet cafe as examples. More than we here in Baghdad ever see or hear about I am sure. Those are what keep the people going.
Kevin from Baytown, Texas, asks: I would like to know the comparison between estimated Iraqi deaths caused by Saddam Hussein, and that of the U.S. invasion itself and the aftermath. If the number passes the number Hussein is estimated to be responsible for, then is the war at least as equally immoral as his actions?
Answer: It is not my position to comment on the morality of actions but to report on what others believe to be the case, and the positions that each side in the conflict takes.
The Pentagon and some news agencies have kept a running tally of the deaths of U.S. troops in the war, which is rapidly approaching the 2,400 mark.
But the Pentagon does not keep track of Iraqi deaths; those from the war to topple Saddam nor from those killed in the violent incidents that have happened since the declaration of the end of hostilities. Some organizations have tried to determine the number of Iraqi deaths. Iraqibodycount.org is one such group. The numbers range in the tens of thousands.
One of the most frustrating parts of this job is trying to get accurate information. The Friday suicide attack on the Buthana Mosque is a good example. We originally were told by three separate officials that it was three mortar attacks that hit the mosque. One official said no fatalities, the other said dozens.
After we learned it was in fact a triple suicide bomb attack, the number ranged from 15 to 100. The Ministries don't communicate well with each other and getting them to release information is hard. There is little concept of the "public's right to know" here in Baghdad.