Saturday, March 1, 2008

War in Iraq


AC - Speeches by Management (Project IV)
The Status Report
February 8, 2008
Introduction
Imagine it is 4 am in the morning. You are in the middle of your deep sleep. A huge explosion wakes you up. You jump out of the bed in a hurry and go out of your home. You see debris everywhere. You see people drenched in blood ... crying out loud ... & running in fear. It is hard for you to believe what you see. You survived a bomb blast. Later that day, a few army men with hard hats & long rifles, knock your door, ask you to evacuate your home immediately and move to a different place or a refugee camp. This may sound very new to you. However, this is not very uncommon for an average citizen in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.
It is about 5 years since the war began. Do you know how many billions were spent? Do you know how many lives were lost? Do you know what progress was made?
Ladies & Gentlemen, fellow toastmasters ... today, I am going to give you a quick status of the WAR IN IRAQ.
Background
Let me start by giving you some background about the war.
The war in Iraq started when the US led coalition forces invaded the country in March 2003. US government claimed that Iraq is developing Weapons of Mass Destruction... weapons that can destroy the human lives ... weapons that can demolish man made structures... weapons that can destroy thousands of plants and animals. President Bush declared that Iraq is posing a huge threat to the security of United States and other nations. The coalition forces fought and took control of Baghdad. The defeat of Iraqi army led to the escape of Iraq's perpetual president, Saddam Hussein.
Several things happened since then, that led to a flurry of changes both within and outside Iraq. Today, I am going to give you some facts with respect to costs, casualties, politics, education and health.
Costs
President Bush has spent about $500 billions in the last 5 years towards Iraq war. The annual war spending is less than just 1% of our GDP. It is not a very huge amount for the nation. It is not going to affect the economy in any way. But the spending on war is starving other areas, like healthcare and education.
If the money that we spend in war is spent on education, we can have twice the number of elementary schools. Think about the impact of doubling the number of elementary schools. Your kids do not have to sit in a crowded classroom. Your kids will get more attention from their teachers. Your kids can learn more.
Do you know how much each of you in this room has paid for the war? $4,100. You could've bought 100 iPhones with that money.
Casualties
The war doesn't just cost money. It also costs several lives.
About 1 million Iraqi civilians are reported to be dead in the last 5 years. It is similar to taking a state like New Hampshire out of the US map.
US has lost about 4000 soldiers in the war. We are loosing an average of 2 soldiers every day in Iraq.
Have you ever thought about - how it would be to live in this world without your eyes or hands or legs? About 100,000 soldiers were injured or wounded heavily in one form or the other in the last 5 years. Imagine what would they do after returning back home. Yes... Government pays a lot of money to them. But, what can they do with the money - without being able to move around or without being able to see the world.
Politics
The war in Iraq has resulted in some good things also.
Iraq was freed from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was ruling the country for nearly 25 years. Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003 and executed in December 2006 for the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims during his regime.
The nation was without a leader since Saddam's defeat in 2003. General elections were held in December 2005. Nouri al-Maliki was sworn in as the Prime Minister on May 2006. The newly formed government has not made any progress in improving the conditions in Iraq. United States supported the new government by sending more troops in 2007. However, there are still NO signs of peace.
The war in Iraq not only influenced the political situation within the country but also within United States. The war spurred mixed reactions in the homeland. US people felt that our army men are caught in the sectarian violence in Iraq. Bush was excessively criticized for the spending in Iraq war and for the loss of lives.
Bush's war policies have made Republicans to lose ground in the elections for the "House of Representatives". Democrats had a sweeping victory. There is a strong feeling among people that Democrats are going to win the Presidential race also.
Education & Health
U.N had lifted their economic sanctions when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991. That had a very significant impact on the education system. Many children dropped out of the schools. In the last few years, UNICEF has renovated a number of schools. The school attendance has increased to 95%. All the children were also immunized. A number of hospitals were also renovated in the last 5 years. Overall health conditions are improving. Iraqi government & several non-profit organizations are working day and night to rebuild Iraq.
Conclusion
It has been 5 years since the war began. Some of the original motives of the war are not valid anymore. No Weapons of Mass Destruction found. Saddam was captured and executed. Democracy is restored.
We spent 500 billions. We lost 4000 army men. But, it is still hard to find answers to some of the lingering questions. When will the sectarian violence end? How much more is going to be spent? When are our troops going to return home?
The people in United States want the forces to be withdrawn, immediately. However, President Bush has pledged not to withdraw forces until victory. What is considered a "victory" in Iraq war? Well, Allah only knows ...
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