The Paradox of Iraq

This detail struck me as revealing in today's rather grim NYT assessment of the "last chance" for Iraq:

The most recent official figures say that Baghdad is receiving at least eight hours of electricity a day, but Iraqis say that after a fleeting improvement earlier this month, they now receive less than that.

When Mr. Maliki visited the Baghdad South power plant earlier this month with his electricity minister, Karim Wahid, they acknowledged that three years after the invasion, billions more will have to be spent.

Mr. Wahid estimated that power output in the Baghdad area must more than double just to meet current demand, which was growing at between 7 percent and 10 percent a year.

The cost to satisfy those needs, he said, could run to as much as $2 billion a year for 10 years, requiring substantial foreign investment. "I will ask the government to correct the budget, and if it's possible to add something else," Mr. Wahid said.

So there you have the two Iraqs. On the one hand, an infrastructure being constantly sabotaged by insurgents and billions spent on electricity leading to an actual reduction of the power available to Iraqis. On the other hand, you have the fact that life and the economy and population growth seem to be demanding electricity at rapidly expanding rates of growth. Something is being murdered; and something is being born. And this seems to be happening simultaneously. Will the U.S. be the midwife or the coroner? That has yet to be determined.