This self-flagellating column by Jonathan Rauch about what he got wrong on Iraq made me go looking at the Iraq Index from Brookings to see just how guilty I should feel this month. (Who doesn't enjoy a spot of self-flagellation?) Instead, I got a happy surprise. The security statistics (other than coalition soldier deaths, which are sharply down), are spotty, and I wouldn't know enough to interpret them even if they weren't. But they do have two objective and easy to verify economic statistics that happen to be closely tied to the security situtation: electricity and barrels of oil pumped.
Barrels of oil pumped had been drifting steadily downwards thanks to insurgent attacks, but in September it popped back to where it was in September of last year. This is, mind you, still below its pre-war level, so this isn't exactly a rousing endorsement of the invasion. But electricity, which has been the metric that generally induces in me the greatest sense of despair, soared in September. The country is now producing more electricity than it ever has before--an average of almost 5,000 megawatts in September. That's 25% more than the prewar level, and also, 6% more than the previous peak in August of 2004. This is a very, very welcome sign . . . although also a very, very tenative one, as these numbers tend to fluctuate quite a lot.
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