Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Ahh, so that's what they meant by The Surge.

Or, $10 billion a month just won't stretch very far these days.

Sewage backup in Baghdad is creating a lake that can be seen on Google Earth:

AFP: Baghdad is drowning in sewage, thirsty for water and largely powerless, an Iraqi official said in a grim assessment of services in the capital five years after the US-led invasion.

One of three sewage treatment plants is out of commission, one is working at stuttering capacity while a pipe blockage in the third means sewage is forming a foul lake so large it can be seen "as a big black spot on Google Earth," said Tahseen Sheikhly, civilian spokesman for the Baghdad security plan.

Sheikhly told a news conference in the capital that water pipes, where they exist, are so old that it is not possible to pump water at a sufficient rate to meet demands -- leaving many neighbourhoods parched.

A sharp deficit of 3,000 megawatts of electricity adds to the woes of residents, who are forced to rely on neighbourhood generators to light up their lives and heat their homes.

Sheikly goes on to say that they are going to rebuild now, but of course they've been saying that since April 2003. This same article also features happy talk from a U.S. general about new schools and clinics -- which seems an odd category of investment, since Iraq had plenty of school buildings and a well-functioning health care system before the invasion. Today, the health care system doesn't lack buildings, it lacks physicians, drugs, and electricity.

The truth is that dozens of Iraqis are still dying in political violence every day -- on good days -- there is no sign of political reconciliation whatsoever, and the main contribution the United States makes to Iraq continues to be to pump in, not drinking water, but more and more weapons. The current path is insanity, for both Americans and Iraqis. Is it really going to change next year? I doubt it.

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