Look beyond the headlines
: On tonight’s Anderson Cooper 360, he urged us to “look beyond the headlines” and you will see that “some things have improved on the ground in Iraq.” Well, yes, considering that the headlines are all bad, you’d have to look beyond them. He hands over to CNN’s Jennifer Eccleston for “that side of the story.”
JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big day has arrived for Piras Odisho and —. Despite the daily disruptions to life in Baghdad, a rising number of young couples like them are taking the plunge.
PIRAS ODISHO, GROOM (translator): Life must go on. There must be marriages and happiness.
ECCLESTON: Marriages are up 30 percent since Saddam’s overthrow and the judge signing their wedding contract thinks he knows why.
GHANI AL-ISAA, JUDGE (translator): There is an increase since the income of all sectors of Iraqi people has gone up.
ECCLESTON: Measuring Iraq’s economic health is not an exact science, but those in work, like the 350 judges trained in the past two years, are better paid, thanks to U.S. subsidies.
The Iraqi dinar holds its value. Gone is the rampant inflation of the ’90′s. There are more goods in the shops, in part, thanks to low import duties and a thriving black market.
It’s estimated that there’s five times more traffic on Baghdad’s roads than there was pre-war and then, there is, what some call, the freedom index. In January, nearly 60 percent of Iraqis voted, choosing from a wide variety of parties. The assembly they voted for is meeting and is beginning to frame a new constitution for Iraq and 25 Sunni delegates are participating.
Internet cafes, unknown under Saddam, have sprung up in Baghdad. There are more than three million telephone subscribers, compared to fewer than a million before the war and many of them are on cell phones. Some 170 independent newspapers and magazines offer competing opinions and there are 80 commercial radio stations.
Wealthier Iraqis have satellite dishes and watch channels from around the world, a luxury unthinkable three years ago. Much of the country away from the Sunni dominated north and west is not racked by sectarian violence and some 150,000 Iraqi security forces are trained, equipped, and playing a larger role in battling the insurgents.
Well, bravo, at long last, major media concedes that the agenda it has set in Iraq — of unrelenting doom — has another side. But they can’t leave it at that. She returns to say:
Now, despite the undeniable progress in Iraq, one year after the handover of sovereignty, the grinding violence, the lack of personal security, the hardships of day-to-day living, not enough power, not enough water, inadequate sanitation, this limits most Iraqis ability to believe their governments and American assertion that life is indeed improving…
Yes, we couldn’t just balance months of dire coverage with a moment’s good news without returning to the dire.