Saturday, January 10, 2009

Continued Progress in Iraq

Written 11 August 08

Although the improvements in Iraq have caused the war to slip from news prominence right past news worthy to downright ignored, it’s still necessary to remind ourselves of the progress being made by our troops and the Iraqi’s.

The Brookings Institute recently provided a good source of information on the long-term trends in Iraq.

July saw the lowest number of civilian fatalities since May of ’03 and the lowest number of attacks since the spring of ’04.

Multiple fatality bombings have dropped from about 69 with 1600 killed or injured in January, 2007 to 18 last month with about 600 killed or injured.

Indicative of the trend we’ve seen with Iraqi’s of all backgrounds stepping to the plate to take charge of their own future, 103,000 Sons of Iraq and Concerned Local Citizens are currently active in the sanctioned protection of their neighborhoods.

The uncovering of weapons caches typically depends upon the sense of security civilians feel and their willingness to then report suspicious activity and associated caches. The number of weapons caches we’ve exploited increased from 1,711 in 2004 to 6,969 in 2007, and is already at 5,667 for 2008.

U.S. casualties which were more than 80 in January of ’07 were down to 12 last month; wounded in action dropped from 700 to 140 in that same time.

There has been a steady trend for several months of just one attack per month against Iraq’s oil and gas infrastructure and personnel, down from more than a dozen per month through much of the preceding years.

There are now 496,000 Iraqi Security Forces. As of March, 112 of the 171 battalions were taking the lead in security operations, requiring little or no assistance, as we saw in Basra and Mosul.

There were also 8,500 Iraqi Security Forces casualties from June, 2003 to July, 2008; noted for those who don’t think the Iraqi’s are sacrificing.

The Institute has rated Iraq ahead of all but 3 other Middle East nations on their Index of Political Freedoms, for those who see no political progress.

Crude oil production is back at pre-war levels with revenue increasing by 5 billion dollars since then. Electrical output has increased from pre-war levels of 3,958 megawatts to 4,570 now. Megawatt hours increased from 95,000 to 109,000 with the nation-wide average of available electricity improving from 4-8 hours pre-war to 11.3 hours per day now.

Iraq’s Gross Domestic Product has increased from $20.5 billion (USD) in 2002 to $48.5 billion in 2006, and is projected at $60.9 billion for 2008. Yes, they should pay more of their own way.

There were 175 trained judges in Iraq in June, 2004. As of this June there were 1,180. Harry Reid could take a lesson from them.

There were an estimated 833,000 pre-war phone and 4,500 internet subscribers. There are now 9.8 million with phones and 261,000 hooked to the web.

There were no commercial TV or radio stations under Saddam, nor were there any independent newspapers or magazines. As of March, 2006 there were already 54 TV stations, 114 radio stations, and 268 independent newspapers and magazines.

Apart from the Brookings report, which only discussed 11 benchmarks, we know the Iraqi’s are up to satisfactory progress or success with 15 of 18 benchmarks, and see political progress from the lowest to highest levels. They’re still finalizing this fall’s election processes and the hydrocarbon laws. But who are we to point the finger, given that all but a very few Democrats in our own country are willing to even debate hydrocarbons as part of our own energy policy?

We’re in the process of a large offensive against Al Qaeda remnants in the Diyala province, and Muqtada al Sadr’s influence continues to dwindle. He’s lost much popular support. His militia became as ferocious against civilians as Al Qaeda and thus became as hated. He and his Mahdi Army have suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of the coalition, putting him in a very weak position. So he continues to capitulate. Sorry, Nancy and Barack, we’re not buying your version of history which credits Sadr for the progress noted above.

Conditions in Iraq have now improved so much that the Administration has been in discussions with the Maliki government about a time horizon for our departure.

Of course though, these time horizons are conditions based, meaning we’re planning to win and as such, negotiating from the position of strength gained by the Surge as measured by some of the metrics noted above. These are conditions based time horizons, not the unconditional surrender liberals continue to advocate for, in spite of these same successes.

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