With the Iraqi parliament on holidays for the month, none of its benchmark legislation passed, and the September deadline for assessment of the "surge" by US lawmakers, the neo-cons are coming out in full force, churning out glowing op-ed pieces for any newspaper that'll print them.
The surge is working, they proclaim. We're winning this one. Just another year, wait, make that two, maybe three. Victory is just around the corner.
So what is this success supposed to look like? Well, don't look at the dysfunctional Baghdad government, that's no success. Forget about the roughly four million displaced Iraqis either. Don't dwell on the soon-to-be breakaway Kurdish state in the north. Forget about the fuel shortages in this nation awash in oil or the lack of electricity of other essential utilities. And then there's the third of Iraq's population that Oxfam now deems in urgent need of emergency aid. That, then is the face of success in Iraq.
Oxfam reports that, with unemployment hovering at 50%, 43% of Iraqis live in "absolute poverty." Here are a few other clear signs of success:
70% of Iraqis lack adequate water supplies
80% lack effective sanitation
92% of Iraqi children show learning problems related to the pervasive sense of fear
800,000 Iraqi kids have dropped out of school
40% of Iraq's doctors, teachers, water engineers and other professionals have fled the country.
So, when you start reading all the "think tank" articles about how Iraq is turning the corner, remember these numbers. They won't be getting any better between now and September.