Iraq: Unfinished Business

Lesley Stahl On The Many Possible Sources of Conflict That Could Erupt Once The U.S. Withdraws Completely

When the U.S. combat mission in Iraq ended in August, instead of celebrations on the streets of Baghdad there was a kind of uneasy reflection about the cost of seven years of war and all the unfinished business that remains.

The American commander who knows more about that unfinished business than anyone is four-star General Ray Odierno, who spent more time in Iraq than any other senior officer. In 2003, he led the 4th Infantry Division that captured Saddam Hussein. He helped implement the "surge" as General Petraeus' number two.

And became number one himself two years ago when Iraq was so violent, he never left the base without wearing full body armor. Last month, as he was about to relinquish command, he showed us a very different Iraq.

When asked by correspondent Lesley Stahl whether he was wearing armor at a Baghdad market, the general told her, "No, I'm not."

As General Odierno looks back on his two years as commander, he says that despite a recent wave of bombings, the level of violence has come down considerably. His last act as the man in charge was to oversee the U.S. military drawdown, the largest movement of troops and materiel since World War II.



60 Minutes Overtime: Moving Day in Iraq
We all know moving isn't easy. Try moving roughly two million items, ranging from ammunition to office chairs, over desert sands in 130 degree heat while the enemy is shooting at you. "60 Minutes Overtime" unpacks the story of the U.S. Army's massive logistical draw down in Iraq.


Extra: Al Qaeda and Iraq
Extra: Saddam's Torture Chambers
International Crisis Group: Iraq

It was a logistical tour de force, involving over 40,000 armored vehicles, jeeps and bulldozers; 2.2 million separate items had to be sorted, stacked and packed, as well as 7,000 tons of ammunition.

The Army's 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was the last combat unit to leave. It took them three days and nights to move across the border into Kuwait.

But many Iraqis wonder what the U.S. occupation accomplished, as we leave their country with a litany of unresolved issues, not the least being political disarray: Iraq's parliament remained locked, dark and empty, for nearly seven months while the politicians wrangled over who would be the next prime minister.

"People are beginning to wonder, you know, if this country can really sustain democracy," Stahl remarked.

"Well, I think we have to see. I mean, I still think it's too early to tell," Odierno said. "If you look in United States history, democracy was pretty ugly in the beginning. This is a very difficult form of government. But I think they really want it."

"If I were an Iraqi, I'd say 'We had this great election. We're so proud of ourselves. But what did they get for it?'" Stahl asked.

"You had an election that was free and people were able to vote for the people they thought. It was a very close election. A very close election," Odierno replied. "When have you seen a close election in the Arab world?"

But the question for people like Rahad al Hindi is: what has democracy meant for their daily lives?

The United States has spent $50 billion trying to rebuild Iraq, including $5 billion to improve the electrical grid, but as we discovered, the grid barely works.

People who can afford them buy generators, which explains the rats' nests of wires you see everywhere.

But Rahad, a factory worker, can't afford much, so she and her family live here mostly in the dark. They get only two hours of electricity a day, so no power for a fan, for a refrigerator, or a pump to bring water into their apartment.

Rahad and her brother, Bassam, get water from their neighbors with generators, one pail at a time. It's a daily trek back down the stairwell and up the street and then back again. If her neighbors aren't home, Rahad says there's no water.

"They weren't there, oh no!" Stahl remarked, after Rahad returned with an empty pail. "So now you have to wait for them to come home before you can have any water?"

It's hard to tell just how representative Rahad is: overall in Iraq, per capita income has jumped nearly 700 percent since 2003. But we couldn't find anyone who didn't complain about the quality of life.

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