This post, for example, starts off promisingly enough. It cites the Washington Post's report that almost 23,000 Iraqi civilians and policemen (and possibly more) died in 2006, with the vast majority of the deaths occurring in the latter half of the year, according to the Iraqi government.
But they've got some good news!
But here's something you're unlikely to read about in the Post -- Iraq is making substantial economic strides.
James Roberts in the Washington Times points to an article in the end-of-the-year edition of Newsweek international called "Iraq's Economy is Booming" by Silvia Spring. It notes that real estate prices have gone up several hundred percent since the fall of Saddam Hussein; that Iraqi workers' salaries have increased more than 100 percent during the same period; that the number of cars in Baghdad has grown by 500 percent; that the Iraqi construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are growing substantially; that the number of registered businesses has increased four fold in three years; that taxes are lower and government revenue higher; that the Kurdish region is booming; that Iraq's GDP grew by 17 percent in 2005, with 2006 growth projected at 13 percent by the Global Insight firm (and 4 percent by the World Bank); and that foreign investment from neighboring countries is pouring in.
We'll pause for the moment, so we can all reflect on the difference between what the Washington Post and the Washington Times feels is important regarding Iraq. There is a reason why one is a real newspaper, and one is cat fodder.
So, taking into account both the level of violence and the economy, is Iraq better off now than it was under Saddam? If you're a Sunni living in a mixed neighborhood in Baghdad, no. If you're a Shiite living in such a neighborhood, probably not. But if you're a Shiite living in the south or a Kurd living in the north, then you're almost certainly much better off now.
So, if you live in the majority of the population centers, including the capital, your life (if you still have it), sucks. Worse than it was under a brutal totalitarian regime, in fact. But all is forgiven, because more Shi'ites down south have imported cars!
Am I the only one who couldn't believe there wasn't an estate-tax repeal reference in that post? I mean, it really seemed like the natural direction to go in. It would "kill two birds with one stone," shall we say. I can't believe they missed it.