The Last of the BOHICANS? I think not?

Okay, so the term is BOHICA (Bend Over, Here It Comes Again), but I added Never Stops just so I could make a play on a book title.  I’m lame, but the work schedule here just became lame, too, so you could say that my misery loves company.  Lame work, lame catch phrases.  I thought it was clever.  So there.

Anyway, to detail what I I am lamenting, my team and I will be channeling our energy to another effort here that “presents a grander scheme to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people”.  What that means, I don’t fully know yet, as the details of the new agreement are being hashed out but, take it from me, it means less activity outside in the city and more damn paperwork.  I hate being someone else’s office monkey.

Be assured, we will do our part (and probably a great deal of someone else’s part) to make sure that the effort to bring stability to Iraq is successful, but I think we needed to do a lot of the things we are just now doing a whole lot earlier in the ball game.  For example, why does supplying Iraqi homes and neighborhoods with dumpsters to put trash in seem like a good idea when there is NO service to empty the dumpsters (i.e. manage the waste), or even an organized landfill system to take the waste to?  I argue that a trash service, in a long-term plan, be initiated, thereby immediately knocking out three birds with one stone, so to speak.  It will provide employment, boosting economy.  It will dispose of trash and clean up the streets and neighborhoods, also providing one less place to hide IEDs and other lethal weapons that are being used by the insurgents to cripple and destroy the legitimacy of the Iraqi government and security forces.  And, it will force the local populace to re-educate themselves on public health and welfare.  Now, that last one has to also be done in coordination with public health officials, but once the people understand that less trash and waste in the streets means less opportunity for disease-spreading factors, I think it could work.  There has to be a plan for where the waste will be taken.  A central landfill location (which Iraq has plenty of land to choose from) has to be selected and designed.  This is an opportunity to add to the agricultural demands of the rural areas.  Why not have a compost program to take organic waste and compost it to make fertilizer?  Why not have a recycling system that could reuse those items that can be recycled?  Both of those are further employment opportunities, as well.  Surely, neighboring Arab countries have programs that could lend the expertise and training for such programs.  I have been to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar in previous military deployments and they have such programs.  In Kuwait and Bahrain, it is a serious offense to litter or to leave trash out, even in residential areas.  Both nations have recycling programs and, for the most part, very good trash services.  I’m not talking about Japan clean, but they are very good, nonetheless.

All anyone has done here so far is to fund 30-day “projects” that fund a trash service to pick up the garbage for thirty days.  After that, if they even go that long, (often, the contractor takes the money and splits after a week, leaving the area to be cleaned to fall back into disrepair).  I will admit that that has been taken care of, largely, by not paying until the end of the project period, with photos to accompany and document the proof that the contractor is doing what he’s supposed to be doing.  Still, it’s a band aid solution for a cauterization-required problem.

I make no claims to be an expert at nation-rebuilding, but common sense has to come into play at some point, doesn’t it?  How long are we going to continue to throw away money that could be funneled into a concerted, long-term effort where employment is improved, trash and waste are reduced and reused, and public health is positively impacted?  I venture that we’ll do it as long as the American public allows it to happen without demanding from our politicians and policy-influencers to affect a smarter, longer-term solution for which OUR, yours and my, money is used.

Step up, America, and get with the program to challenge the conventional.  Do it or watch American freedom die a slow, agonizing death.  We are supposed to be the reason why our politicians are in office.  We are supposed to be the ones whose common interests are kept at heart when deciding how, when, and where our efforts go when assisting nations less fortunate than ours.  We are supposed to be the shining example of democracy at work.  But it won’t work, if you don’t practice it and get out there to be heard.  Tell your Congressman that you don’t agree with the way the money is spent in other countries when you can’t find work at home.  Tell your town council members that just because they opt to live in your neighborhood instead of some expensive house, that doesn’t fix the homeless’ plight in the fourth ward downtown (or uptown, where I’m from).  If we are supposed to fix other countries, let’s start at home and get it right, and then let’s try to fix some other country. Lead by example ring a bell, anyone?

No wonder the world hates us.  “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Doesn’t work in my house.  I don’t think that it works for the rest of the world watching us, either.

~ by kyodan75 on December 14, 2009.

One Response to “The Last of the BOHICANS? I think not?”

  1. Still looking for something to disagree with… Where is it? 😉

    There are all sorts of opportunity with local waste to create “industry” (in the old sense of the word), that will both provide work, and resources (as you mentioned). Are there NGOs that are involved in doing any of that through community development, or is it all military + contractors? Sometimes a local small neighborhood based program can be more easily started and maintained, and then spread, as the successful implementation can be a model for other small local neighborhood programs.

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