Musings on Iraq takes a hard look at crime in Iraq:

For almost thirty years Iraq has been embroiled in wars, sanctions, and most recently a civil war. Since 2009, violence has hit its lowest levels since the U.S. invasion. Now Iraqis have to face rising crime from everyday criminals, militants, the security forces, and others. The increase in kidnappings and trafficking are signs of an impoverished society. The wars and sanctions have devastated the Iraqi economy. It’s estimated that 51% of the workforce is either unemployed or underemployed. That has hit the young, ages 15-29, the hardest. They constitute 57% of those out of work, and 250,000 new people enter the labor force each year. Add to that the fact that 25% of the population lives below the poverty level, which equals $2 a day, and the reason why so many might be drawn to illegal activities or be the victim of it can be understood. Until Iraq can find gainful employment for its people, and capitalize upon its great oil wealth crime is likely going to remain a pressing issue within the country. 

The blog also catches us up on attempts to form a new government. My grimmest quote of the day must come from an assessment of the prisons were Sunnis were brutally tortured by the Maliki government:

“America is the symbol of democracy, but then you have the abuses at Abu Ghraib,” Mr. Maliki said. “The American government took tough measures, and we are doing the same, so where is the problem and why this raucousness?”

Yes, our moral standing to protest such torture is largely kaput. Our example is now used to downplay torture, not expose it. Such are the fruits of Cheney's madness. And Maliki does not look like a man who wants to cede power peacefully, does he? So, ppart from a deeply divisive poll recount, disqualification of Sunnis, alienation of the Awakening groups, a lack of a legitimate government, a failure to integrate the military and police, and the emergence of sectarian torture prisons ... the surge has been a fantastic success, hasn't it?

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