As much as I hate how the media pampers it’s audience with the latest and greatest front page news of Britney’s “newest,” still images of LA’s police chases (thanks OJ) and more to the point carnage from Iraq. I understand it.
Sensationalism sells, at least that’s what they believe. The latest figures show why some call the newsprint business the “Legacy Media,” almost without exception the major print dailies in the U.S. have lost circulation.
What I don’t understand (not quite true but I’ll save that rant for another post) or accept is the continued avoidance of, or willful deep sixing of any thing that smacks of good news out of Iraq. It’s irresponsible. The American public and indeed the world deserve to read and hear “the entire story.” Damn the demographics and cheap attempts at sensationalism.
The current war in Iraq has cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million to the U.S. taxpayers. (a drop in the proverbial bucket with compared to GDP of $12.41 trillion) The newspaper industry as a whole would have you believe, either by benign omission or ideological bent, the $250 million is wasted and could be better spent on some of it’s pet projects like socialized medicine.
In that light, and as an addendum to this post, I offer the latest data from the Iraq Index (55 page pdf file) published this week by The Brookings Institution. I would encourage you to read it all, but here are some notable items:
1. Per Capita GDP (USD) for 2005 is forecast to increase from the previous year to $1,051. In 2002 it was $802.
2. Increases in GDP for the next five years: 16.8, 13.6, 12.5, 7.8, and 7.2.
3. Actionable tips from Iraqis have increased every month this year. In January, 4,025 tips were received; February, 4,235; and March, 4,578.
4. On an index of political freedom for countries in the Middle East, Iraq now ranks fourth, just below Israel, Lebanon, and Morocco.
5. Crude oil production reached 2.14 million barrels a day (MBD) in April of this year. It had dropped to 0.3 MBD in May of 2003.
6. Revenues from oil export have only slightly increased from pre-war levels of $0.2 billion, to $0.62 billion in April.
7. Electrical output is almost at the pre-war level of 3,958 megawatts. April’s production was 3,600 megawatts. In May of 2003, production was only 500 megawatts. The goal is to reach 6,000 megawatts.
8. The unemployment rate in June of 2003 was 50-60%, and in April of this year it had dropped to 25-40%.
9. The number of U.S. military wounded has declined significantly from a high of 1,397 in November 2004 to 430 in April of this year.
10. Iraqi military casualties were 201 in April of 2006, after peaking at 304 in July of 2005.
11. As of December 2005, countries other than the U.S., plus the World Bank and IMF, have pledged almost $14 billion in reconstruction aid to Iraq.
12. Significant progress has also been made towards the rule of law. In May 2003 there were no trained judges, but as of October 2005 there were 351.
13. As of January 2006, 64% of Iraqis polled said that the country was headed in the right direction.
14. Also as of January 2006, 77% said that removing Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.
15. In May of 2003, Iraqi Security Forces were estimated at between 7,000-9,000. They numbered 250,500 in March of this year.
16. The breakdown of foreign terrorists by country of origin is interesting. The largest number come from Algeria, at 20%. The next two countries are Syria and Yemen, at 18% and 17%, respectively.
17. The number of foreign terrorists fighting in Iraq was estimated at between 300 and 500 in January 2004. That number increased in April of this year, to between 700 and 2,000.
18. From May 2003 and April 2006, between 1,000 and 3,000 anti-Iraqi forces have been killed each month.
There is plenty of positive news here, and much progress for the Legacy Media, among others, to ignore. But pardon me if I continue my normal respiration rate while waiting for them to attempt a cure for its Attention Deficit Disorder