Thursday, May 04, 2006

[Iraq, Mission Accomplished]

Judging Progress After Three Years

Leaving aside the Bush administration's culpability in lying the US into an ill-conceived, incompetently-conducted, and legally-dubious war, how is Iraq doing three years after our "liberation?"

One obvious measure is the stability on the ground. On May 1, 2003, the US had lost 139 soldiers--an average of about 60 a month. Since then, we've lost over 2,250, or an average of about 63 a month. That's not appreciably worse, but it sure isn't better. Other indices are less hopeful. The number of civilian casualties has risen steadily since the invasion. Based on casualty reports (which probably seriously understate the actual figures), civilian deaths stand at about 38,000.

There were fewer than 250 insurgent attacks on "coalition" troops in June 2003, but that number has risen considerably. Although the monthly numbers have fluctuated, in only one three-month period since August 2004 has the average number of attacks been lower than 2000 per month. The most important statistic for measuring stability, however: in the past year, the number of attacks on Iraqi security forces has been on the rise.

Measuring political stability is impossible, but it's clear that Bush's measure--the three elections Iraq has had since the invasion--are useless. Actual political stability is bad enough that this week Senator Joe Biden suggested a three-state solution.

GAO on electricity: "Before the war, Iraq's generation capacity was about 4,300 megawatts. The U.S. goal was 6,000 megawatts; current capacity is 4,092 megawatts, down from a peak of 5,387 in July 2005."

On water: "Pre-war capacity is unknown, but the U.S. aimed to provide 2.5 million cubic meters of water a day; about 1.1 million cubic meters are being provided daily now."

On oil: "Before the war, Iraq produced 2.6 million barrels per day. The U.S. goal was 3 million barrels a day; Iraq now produces about 2 million barrels per day."

Cost of War
In January 2003, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels estimated the cost of the war at $50-60 billion, a revised estimate that contradicted the estimate Bush's economic advisor Larry Lindsay had given of $200 billion. (Lindsay was fired for that.) Dems put the price tag at $93 billion.

The actual cost to date has been $278 billion. Estimates of the total, final cost put the figure at $1 trillion.

Bush sees all kinds of progress in Iraq, but it's all based on hopeful scenarios about future stability (which Bush has nurtured since before the invasion, and which has been unaffected by any actual interceding events). But any serious look at the actual changes in Iraq since May 2003 reveals that things are worse across every major index of change.


zemeckis said...

i really dislike that the word "progress" seems to mean "good" in our culture.

lets not forget that atilla the hun had a few good years of progress on his agenda, as did stalin

Jeff Alworth said...

I don't know that anyone called Stalin progressive, but I get your point.