A quick alternative – or perhaps complementary – view to David’s recent posting is to look to some people who’ve actually been studying Iraq’s economy in a more systematic manner. Chris Foote, an economist at the FRB, who has been working in Iraq for most of the past year, has recently written a fairly systematic study of the first stage of the economic reforms. And yes, you can certainly make the “but he would say that, wouldn’t he?” critique – though I don’t think anyone really thought that the globaphobic Ms Klein was going to return proclaiming Iraq’s reforms a success.
Another option is to look at the work by Mike O’Hanlon and others (see here and here), which again shows a much more nuanced message. Security is still bloody awful, but unemployment, electricity, phones, schools, finance sector, judiciary all seem to show improvement. I haven’t heard anyone argue that O’Hanlon’s statistics are biased.
I would, however, love to read the Tim Winton story. Let us know if it comes up on the Harper’s website (couldn’t see it there at present).