State of Iraq

With talk of civil war now more common, the latest Mike O’Hanlon and friends State of Iraq oped in the NYT is the most depressing yet. On the economy:

The country’s economy continues to disappoint. Although it had a fairly quick recovery in 2003 and early 2004, when gross domestic product was restored to Saddam Hussein-era levels, violence and instability have prevented much further progress. And while subsidies for gasoline and some other goods, which have been costing the Iraqi government about $10 billion a year, or a third of gross domestic product, have been reduced, projections that the country’s economy will grow by 10 percent a year for the rest of the decade look increasingly suspect. Current growth sputters along at less than 5 percent despite sky-high prices for oil exports. Most utilities (except telephones and Internet services) are still performing below Baathist-era levels. Unemployment remains very high.

Surprisingly, the best news comes from Iraqi attitudes:

All that said, according to public opinion polls, more than 60 percent of Iraqis (though very few Sunni Arabs) remain bullish on the future.

The authors conclude:

while a strategically passable outcome still seems within reach, it is increasingly hard to believe that there are the makings of a major success for American foreign policy in Iraq.

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