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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Good news?

AP, December 8:
Speaking to the Kentucky Farm Bureau convention, [Senator Mitch] McConnell said the transition in Iraq has been "rather smooth" - noting that in less than three years Iraq went from the fall of Saddam Hussein to parliamentary elections planned for next week. By contrast, 11 years elapsed in the United States from the time of the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, he said.

"I think that Iraq is already a success story, and I think it's going to end up being remembered by historians as a huge success story," he said...

McConnell, who has taken trips to Iraq, said all but three Iraqi provinces are "safe and stable" and that life is "dramatically better than it used to be."

..."Well the president does have a plan in Iraq, and the plan is as follows: We're going to stay and win, we're not going to cut and run," said McConnell, drawing applause.
McConnell added, losses have been "quite small" because of the "extraordinary effectiveness of our military."

Needless to say, while there is some good news in Iraq, it's difficult to point to Iraq as a success story. Thanks to the research of Michael O'Hanlon and colleagues, Brookings has all the numbers.

Here's what O'Hanlon wrote in The Washington Post, November 28:
Growing GDP is good for those with access to the twin golden rivers flowing through Iraq -- not the Tigris and Euphrates, but oil revenue and foreign aid. The rest of the economy is, on the whole, weak. Unemployment remains in the 30 to 40 percent range, and the psychologically most critical type of infrastructure -- electricity -- has barely improved since Saddam Hussein fell. Iraqi security forces are getting better, but they are also losing more than 200 men a month to the insurgency. Civilian casualties in Iraq from the war are as high as ever; combine that with the region's highest crime rates, and Iraq has clearly become a much more violent society since Hussein fell. Tactically, the resistance appears to be outmaneuvering the best military in the world in its use of improvised explosive devices. And politically, every move forward toward greater Sunni Arab participation in the political process seems to be accompanied by at least one step back.
Every number O'Hanlon provides is document in his reports and the overwhelming majority come straight from the US government.

By the way, O'Hanlon is about due for another update on the "State of Iraq." In his September article for The New York Times, O'Hanlon wrote "on balance the indicators are troubling."

Deep down, I think Senator McConnell knows that. He's not delusional.

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