Tuesday, August 28

Pick up a wrench

"What can France do to help this ravaged country recover hope? First, it can be modest. No one imagines that we have a magic formula."
-- Bernard Kouchner, France's Foreign Minister

The Armchair Generalist spoke with Brigadier General Michael Walsh, who is working to bring more electricity to Baghdad, about Iraq's electrification situation and came away with insights that reminded me of the broader context:
The Iraqi goal is to have 24-hour access to electricity [in the] 2010-2013 time frame. BG Walsh pointed out that the Iraqis have never had 24-hour access, even during Saddam's regime. He also pointed out that, even in the United States, there had been issues in the 1990s (notably, California) where neighboring states either refused to cooperate in energy distribution or hiked the costs so high that the solution had to be rolling brownouts for the state.
Try to imagine living in country that's never had electricity round the clock.

We talk about "reconstructing" war-torn Iraq but in many ways we're having to fit together the nuts and bolts of a modern society, and from the ground up. So I really do wish the Europeans who have come to the idea of helping Iraq would stop hovering and talking about history or modesty. Just grab a wrench and pitch in.

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