BAGHDAD - The retired general overseeing Iraq's postwar reconstruction said on Wednesday that his fellow Americans should beat their chests with pride at having toppled Saddam Hussein without destroying the country's assets.
We ought to be beating our chests every day. We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: 'Damn, we're Americans!'
Retired US General in charge of rebuilding Iraq
"We ought to be beating our chests every day. We ought to look in a mirror and get proud and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say: 'Damn, we're Americans!'," Jay Garner told reporters, saying that Iraq's oil fields and other infrastructure survived the war almost intact.
Garner, who was speaking after talks with visiting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Baghdad, took the media to task for emphasizing anti-American demonstrations and dissent in the wake of the three-week U.S. led war that deposed Saddam.
His comments came after U.S. troops opened fire for the second time this week on an angry crowd protesting against the U.S. presence in the town of Falluja, west of Baghdad. Iraqi hospital officials said two men were killed in the latest incident. At least 13 died in shooting on Monday, they said.
Garner said the war was fought in a way that prevented Saddam's forces from setting fire to its oilfields and had largely preserved Iraq's infrastructure intact:
"I was planning on the oilfields being torched, a huge humanitarian crisis and a monumental reconstruction task, " he said.
"There is no humanitarian crisis ... and there's not much infrastructure problem here, other than getting the electrical grid structure back together."
The situation in Baghdad was improving every day and power had been restored to about half of the city, he said.
The U.S. military is increasing its presence in the Iraqi capital to boost security and help in wiping out pockets of resistance from diehard Saddam supporters.
© 2003 Reuters Ltd