Second on the list is Iraq, with a report from the Brookings Institution. It provides some telling contradictions of the official US line on post war reconstruction, and on the status of the Iraqi army. It also provides some details of the progress being made in education and health.
For instance, whereas Defense and State contend that there are now more Iraqi security forces than coalition forces protecting the citizenry, Brookings finds that only 65 percent of the 196,766-person indigenous security force is “partially or fully trained.” (Tellingly, training levels are at 100 percent for those Iraqis tasked with guarding oil and electricity installations and serving as drivers and interpreters for coalition forces.) Moreover, Brookings reports, the nascent Iraqi army has fewer than 3,000 men, and 480 of the 900 Iraqis in the first new army battalion resigned shortly after being put on active duty. The State Department claims that the current violence in Iraq is due in large part to “foreign terrorists.” The Brookings report notes, however, that fewer than two percent of the 8,500 “anti-coalition suspects” detained in Iraq are foreign nationals. The State Department also says that electrical-power levels “exceeded pre-war capacity” in the fall of 2003. This is technically true: on a single day last fall electrical-power levels exceeded pre-war capacity. The monthly average for electricity production, however, has yet to reach pre-war levels. Meanwhile, potable water is available to only two thirds of the population. There is some good news in these reports: the value of the Iraqi dinar is rising; oil revenues have passed $5 billion; all hospitals in Iraq are open, with 90 percent operating at pre-war levels; and the unemployment rate has decreased from 60 percent in June of 2003 to 45 percent earlier this year. Perhaps the brightest spot is education: more than 2,300 schools have been rehabilitated by USAID, millions of new textbooks have been printed and distributed, and teachers’ salaries are far higher than under the former regime.