The soundbite: “Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come.”
Fred Barnes says they’ve finally got a plan for victory. You can read it for yourself here; it calls for 50,000 more troops to help clear Baghdad’s neighborhood of jihadis and militiamen. Once each neighborhood is cleared, a contingent of U.S. and Iraqi forces will move in and hold the area. Paul Mirengoff is skeptical, with good reason.
The plan comes from AEI, which ought to make it extra popular with the media.
Please do read the report in Newsweek about Iraq’s surprising economy, though. (“Booming,” the copy editor calls it.) Instapundit linked it this morning but I want to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Quote:
Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it’s doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006…
Imported goods have grown increasingly affordable, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers. Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. “The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom,” says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. “In a sense, they’ve succeeded.”
Not well enough. Bush’s approval rating on Iraq is at an all-time low.