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UPDATE:  Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project, February, 2004


Here's a knotty question for you:  Confronted with the military, political and economic juggernaut of the US occupation of prostrate Iraq, what sort of chance has a small water restoration project like IWP to accomplish its ambitious goals?  These goals, as stated in all our literature, are the protection of lives of ordinary Iraqis dependent on the plants we have selected to rebuild, and, equally important, the visible contrast of our effort with the hidden agenda of political domination inherent in all US policy toward Iraq, now as before. Anyone interested in the Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project, or considering a donation, deserves an answer to this question.

To be truthful, standing before Goliath IWP is a pretty puny David.  We are proud of our fundraising in the past, but we have not asked in our mailings for anything remotely approaching the 87 billion in greenback our larger rival has commanded.  No, we do not intend to restore all of Iraq's water system.

Realistically we cannot even accomplish the range of physical improvements to the plants that were possible in the past, when Iraq was under sanctions, its economy artificially compressed and everything was shockingly cheap.  That whole pricing structure disappeared in the dust as the first US military boot trod across the border.  Mechanical repairs are a lot more expensive now.

Still, important uses and goals lie within reach of the Iraq Water Project.  The Coalition Provisional Authority---The Occupation, to be more direct---is the obedient handmaiden of Bush administration foreign policy, and  by its own admission has committed a series of blunders in its role as imperial overlord in Iraq.  Precipitate dismissal of the entire Iraq army and instant unemployment of thousands of armed former soldiers is a spectacular example.  Perhaps less familiar to the public, because receiving less press attention, is the sell-off of Iraqi state assets under the provisions of CPA Order 39.  The disastrous condition of Iraq's internal security has had something of a braking effect on this US brainstorm, yet reports indicate that everything is prospectively up for grabs outside of oil, and  that particular asset is exempted only because of irresistable opposition within the Provisional Council (actual Iraqis, appointed or not.).  Here at VFP we consider this Order--- in effect forced privatization--- another example of doctrinaire arrogance and blithe American contempt for the sovereign right of Iraqis to make their own decisions.

It is entirely possible that before the Occupation Authority folds its tent an attempt will be made to privatize Iraq's water system, including even the six treatment plants repaired by VFP.  This would offer us the opportunity to put up resistance---a frail bodies across the tracks kind of scenario perhaps.  Even though outwardly unsuccessful in all probability, our very smallness might nevertheless prove a strength, exposing the bullying character of this occupation.  There are segments of American media that respond to situations such as that.  Of course, if CPA makes no such attempt, our work is protected and we can thump our breasts in the satisfying possibility that they are afraid of us.

Another aspect of the continuance of our work is to demonstrate to the Iraqis we have come to know, to ourselves, and to everyone who has been interested in our project that we have not abandoned the people whose precarious health depends on water supplied by the IWP-repaired treatment plants.  We will keep our project and our website open to put a face on those thousands of people who in the larger scale of things, and as viewed from the halls of power, are only figures in a column.

It has always been the purpose of the Iraq Water Project to serve the Iraqi people by publicizing their helpless condition in the face of gigantic outside forces confronting and using them.   As military veterans, we feel we are also serving our own country by fostering good relations with the people of an important foreign nation, looking out for their good and ours equally, and at the same time trying to leverage our government toward a more rational and humane attitude as it moves ponderously through the world.  Whatever its other goals, IWP will always support the Iraqi people's strivings toward an authentically independent and dignified future.  

--Art Dorland, VFP Iraq Water Project Chair