Remember Iraq? You’re not seeing it in the headlines nearly as much these days, and the reasons are all good.
Most auspiciously, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the major cities has not precipitated a return to the violence of 2005-2007, as many feared. At 200-400 a month, Iraqi deaths (civilian and security forces) are still tracking well below the levels of a year ago, a vast improvement over the thousands per month that died from 2005-2007 and the many thousands per month that died violently under Saddam’s reign, and among the lowest numbers recorded at any time in Iraq (some context: Iraq’s current levels of violence would be unacceptable in wealthy countries like the U.S. or in Western Europe, but they compare favorably with countries like Venezuela, Jamaica and Colombia that are generally not considered to be in a state of unusual unrest).
In other major events, Kurdish elections went off relatively smoothly with opposition parties making gains on an anti-corruption platform (an essential phenomenon in the development of any liberal democracy), PM Maliki visited the U.S. to yawns from the MSM, and a national oil company was formed. Iraqi security forces performed well during the July pilgrimage, keeping the event largely free of violence without U.S. help.
Basic services continue to improve. Official electricity production capacity has reached 6,000MW while the total including private generation is at least 8,000MW (p39) or about twice what it was in 2002. Availability of all services has doubled between Feb 2008 and Feb 2009 (p44), including sewage, water, electricity, fire departments, fuel, public health, housing and trash. There are now almost as many phones as Iraqis in Iraq (p45), while the number with Internet access is approaching 1 million (p46). All sources agree Iraqi GDP is seeing considerable growth (p43), oil price fluctuations aside. About 58% of Iraqis say things are going very or quite good, the first time this number has exceeded 50% in two years of polling (p48).
This is what victory looks like. This is the Iraq they told us was impossible — a free, stable, prosperous country in the heart of the Mideast that serves as an example to people in neighboring countries who want real democracy. This is the Iraq that would not exist had we cut and run in 2006 or 2007 as the defeatists argued we should.