Tuesday, June 28, 2005

More Good News From Iraq

Last week I spent about twenty minutes watching Fox News, only to be reminded that it is even more ridiculous than I thought. During one segment, viewers were duly informed by the cheery hosts that pinkocommielibs in the media were only reporting half the story from Iraq.

To correct the imbalance, a Pentagon spokesman was on to provide that mysterious missing half of the story we aren't getting in the NY Times or on CNN. Unfortunately, this gentleman had nothing to say--literally. Nary a single fact about the mess in Iraq crossed his lips. The only message he had for Fox viewers was that the growing lack of support in the country would ultimately impact the morale of fighting men in the field. In short, his message was, "Shut up and don't criticize the president. If you do, you are guilty of sedition and the blood of soldiers is on your hands."

To get any actual news from Iraq, one must come to the Web, or read European papers. Today, I stumbled across Patrick Coburn's latest analysis of the situation. Here are a few stats from that piece:

Then and now

Average daily attacks by insurgents

Pre-war March 2003: 0

Handover June 2004: 45

Now: 70

Analysis:

Figures should be viewed with caution because US military often does not record attacks if there are no American casualties.

Total number of coalition troops killed

Pre-war March 2003: 0

Handover June 2004: 982

Now: 1,930

Analysis:

Number of US troops killed increased sharply during Fallujah fighting in April and November 2004.

Iraqi civilians killed

Pre-war March 2003: n/a

Handover June 2004: 10,000

Now: 60,800 (includes 23,000 crime-related deaths)

Analysis:

Estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths have varied widely because the US military does not count them.

Electricity supply (megawatts generated)

Pre-war March 2003: 3,958

Handover June 2004: 4,293

Now: 4,035

Analysis:

Coalition is way behind its goal of providing 6,000 megawatts by July 2004. Most Iraqis do not have a reliable electricity supply.

Unemployed

Pre-war March 2003: n/a

Handover June 2004: 40%

Now: 40%

Analysis:

More than a third of young people are unemployed, a cause for social unrest. Many security men stay home, except on payday.

Telephones

Pre-war March 2003: 833,000 (landlines only)

Handover June 2004: 1.2m (includes mobiles)

Now: 3.1m

Analysis:

Landlines are extremely unreliable and mobile phone system could be improved.

Primary school access

Pre-war March 2003: 3.6m

Handover June 2004: 4.3m

Now: n/a

Analysis:

83 per cent of boys and 79 per cent of girls in primary schools. But figures mask declining literacy and failure rate.

Oil production (barrels a day)

Pre-war March 2003: 2.5m

Handover June 2004: 2.29m

Now: 2.20m

Analysis:

Sustainability of Iraqi oilfields has been jeopardised to boost output. Oil facilities regularly targeted by insurgents.

Coburn should cease and desist with trying to inject facts into his analysis and give us some good news. We need a few stories that are a bit more upbeat. Here are a few recommendations for headlines:

1) "Baghdad McDonald's Thriving"
2) "Women's Options Expanding as Baghdad Abortuarium Opens for Business"
3) "Alcohol Sales on the Decline as Christian Liquor Stores Burned to the Ground" (My Baptist brothers will especially admire the prohibitionist zeal of Shiite Muslims)
4) "Satellite Television Explodes in Liberated Iraq, Baywatch a Huge Hit"
5) "Boy Opens Lemonade Stand in Fallujah, Goes Into Business With Formerly Oppressed Little Girl"

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