When the cabinet of Iraq's first democratically elected government was filled out more than two weeks ago, many Americans hoped the announcement would help curb the mounting violence. Instead, insurgent attacks in Iraq have intensified. Much of the fighting has been Iraq-on-Iraq violence. But 14 American troops died in Iraq last week. That brings the total to more than 1,600 members of the U.S. military that have died since the war started in March 2003.
The violence is unfortunate and tragic. But General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is right when he calls for patience. He said the insurgency could last for years.
A lot of good work is still being done in Iraq. The Iraqi government is now employing 1.2 million Iraqi people. More than 3,100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are being rehabilitated, 263 schools are under construction and 38 new schools have been built in Iraq. The Iraqi Navy is operational. Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a commando battalion. The Iraqi Police Service has 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers. Ninety-five percent of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first two series of polio vaccinations. More than 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid-October.
Getting the new government in place is a good start. The heightened strife is part of the process of reclaiming the country from despotism.