The Big Picture on Iraq

Truth be told, I’m basically a sucker alot of the time. I mean I’m often easily swayed by a small piece of evidence that has nothing much at all to do with the big picture. This comes up all the time during the Iraq Conflict. I hear a story that makes it sound like things are going better and I start to think that maybe I’m wrong about this thing. Maybe we do just need to wait it out and things will get better. That’s when I try to remind myself that look at the progress at the Macro level is what matters and that the story there is not all that great.

Since 2003 back in the heady days of Bremer and the CPA I have been watching 3 numbers to see how things are going in Iraq.

  • The Rate US Soldiers are Dying
  • The Amount of Electricity Being Produced
  • The Amount of Oil Production

These aren’t necessarily the best numbers but they are readily available and they do speak to issues about the level of conflict, the quality of life for Iraqis, and the outlook for the Iraqi economy as a whole.

As most people know the Rate US soldiers are dying isn’t really getting any lower. You can check out the graph for yourself here.

For the other two figure I used to rely on the CPA reports but now have turned to the State departments Iraq Weekly Status report. Since these are all PDFs I’m going to repost some of the charts here to save you the 2 mins for acrobat reader to load. First lets look at Electrical Power Generation from the most recent report of 3/14/07.


Now I’m sure that some kind newspeak from Mr. Snow would try to spin this as the fact that the demand is going up is a positive sign but the blue line is clearly going no where that can be considered progress. This despite the fact that improving the power production has been a goal for 4 years now.

But now lets move on to the oil. When I looked at the latest report I was suprised at what I found:IraqOil2007

At first I was shocked to see that we (well you know of course I mean our friends the Iraqis) had actually hit our production targets. That’s when the sucker in me was overtaken by the cynic and I thought, “Well I guess I see where the priorities are. Who cares about the people’s quality of life? just get the black gold flowing”. Unfortunately, In my cynical haste to judge I had made a mistake. The mistake was in fact that I had not been cynical enough. Because after checking out the 12/27/06 report:


I realized that the Bush Admistration (sorry again I meant to say the Iraqi Oil Ministry) has adopted the strategy of achieving goals by simply lowering the target from 2.5 to 2.1MBPD. Which really upset me. Because as anyone who knows me knows, I can’t stand it when I am not cynical enough.






One response to “The Big Picture on Iraq”

  1. nobot Avatar

    Reminds me of this story where the Army is reducing their recruiting goals. I presume they won’t highlight this fact when reporting whether they met their monthly quotas to media outlets.

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