Summarizing a half-year of occupation last week, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer pointed to Baghdad's reopened shops and traffic-filled streets. "Anyone can see the wheels of commerce turning," he told reporters.
His economic status report did not mention the millions of idle workers, but Iraqis see them everywhere, on their streets, in their homes. "This is our biggest problem today," said Nouri Jafer, labor undersecretary in Iraq's interim Cabinet.
The U.S.-British coalition occupying Iraq must redouble its efforts during "difficult months ahead" to tackle terrorists and Saddam Hussein loyalists operating in parts of the country, Britain's envoy to Iraq said Thursday
Jeremy Greenstock told reporters in London that the coalition must speed up its training of Iraqi police and a civil defense force, and needed several thousand Iraqis to secure the nation's porous borders.
"We are expecting still some difficult months ahead in terms of sheer terrorism and the ability to plant bombs and fire weapons at us," said Greenstock. "Their brutality goes a long way down into soft target areas. They do not seem to mind who they kill."
In other developments:
Iraq became a land of the unemployed when the government collapsed in April under attack from the U.S.-British invasion force, and its ministries were burned and state-owned factories and oil installations looted in the war's chaotic aftermath. Then, after taking over in early May, Bremer formally dissolved the Iraqi army.
"The first mistake was when they disestablished the army and police forces," Jafer said. "This created more unemployment because (President) Saddam Hussein had more than a million in the security forces."
Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority is rebuilding a police force — 40,000 nationally thus far — but has only begun reviving the army, with just one 700-man battalion. Some state factories from the old government-run economy have managed to reopen, but heavier industries remain closed, especially those associated with military products.
The U.S.-led authority, through Iraq's interim administration, the Governing Council, has financed 340,000 emergency jobs, generally paying the equivalent of $3 a day to a new army of 180,000 street cleaners across Iraq and 160,000 people clearing the countryside's poorly maintained irrigation canals.
In the face of 12 million, however, "this is a very small number," Jafer said.
Flying in from Washington, American planners have their ideas: to privatize Iraq's economy by selling off promising state companies to investors — Iraqi investors, they hope, but foreigners if necessary.
But a major U.N. assessment issued Oct. 3 said privatization of Iraq's state-owned enterprises should take at least four years.
And nearly uncontrolled crime, especially in Baghdad, coupled with bombing attacks aimed at the Americans and their supporters, have largely kept outside businesses away.
Meanwhile, both Iraqis and Americans are bearing the human cost of that instability. With Psalms and a 21-gun salute Thursday, soldiers hailed two fallen comrades from the 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry Regiment in a memorial service at one of Saddam's palaces.
Several hundred soldiers, including those of Wheeler's Charlie Company and Powell's Bravo Company, gathered at the downtown palace for the somber ceremony.
"We mourn their loss; we honor their sacrifice," said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, the battalion commander.
Company commanders recounted how Powell had volunteered for a combat mission although he was due for home leave within days, and talked of Wheeler's "contagious smile and boundless enthusiasm."
A bugler played taps. A female soldier sang 'America the Beautiful' and 'Amazing Grace.' Tears streaming down their cheeks, the troops then filed one by one by the podium to pay their respects.