Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Electricity hits three-year low in Iraq

A lot can happen in a month.  From an Associated Press article from February 20 entitled “Slowly, U.S. effort gives Iraq electricity”:

“ Glistening in Iraq's barren southern salt plains, a natural-gas-driven power station has come on line.

 
It's generating sorely needed electricity for war-weary Iraqis and demonstrating that much-maligned U.S.-led reconstruction efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

 
U.S. officials said Sunday that increasing Iraq's electricity-generating capacity through facilities such as the 250-megawatt plant near Basra is crucial to American efforts to encourage Iraqis to turn their backs on the insurgency.”

The rest of the article depicts American efforts in a completely positive light.  Then, on March 13, the same Associated Press comes out with an article entitled “Electricity hits three-year low in Iraq”:

“Electricity output has dipped to its lowest point in three years in Iraq, where the desert sun is rising toward another broiling summer and U.S. engineers are winding down their rebuilding of the crippled power grid.

The Iraqis, in fact, may have to turn to neighboring Iran to help bail them out of their energy crisis - if not this summer, then in years to come.”

The rest of the article goes on with the same “USA, USA, USA” cheer as in the first one, but is a little more realistic.  Get this:

“. . . Army Corps of Engineers officers regard their Restore Iraq Electricity project as one of the great feats in corps history, along with the building of the Panama Canal a century ago.”

Actually, it reminds me more of their work on the New Orleans levees.  Here is an example of their excellence (my emphasis):

“But some believe the Americans also made a critical mistake by installing gas-turbine generators rather than building or overhauling more of the oil-fueled, steam-run plants.

Iraq doesn't have pipelines to deliver natural gas from its oil fields, so plant operators resort to low-grade oil to run the gas-combustion engines, reducing power output by up to 50 percent and potentially damaging the machinery.”

Since the reconstruction money is all gone, much of it diverted to fight the insurgency (an insurgency worsened by the obvious lack of concern of the Americans for the Iraqi people, as symbolized by the electricity situation), things will now not improve, and will probably continue to deteriorate.  The lack of electricity was the single most obvious legacy of the American occupation, but is now matched, in terms of the struggle of day-to-day living, by the complete lack of personal security.  It is impossible for anyone to continue to argue that the United States has ever had any concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people, no matter how much the Bush Administration and its shills claim to the contrary.

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