Monday, October 30, 2006

A Hungry Mob is a Angry Mob

Despite some of the weaknesses in the Fareed Zakaria article that "lazy" Blake linked to on Sunday (discussed in this thread), there was also a good deal of worthwhile information and strategic thinking to pick through. There was one fact in particular that I wanted to highlight. While I knew that rampant unemployment has been an issue that has plagued Iraq since the invasion, I didn't know that the problem had reached these levels [emphasis added]:

The most revealing statistic about Iraq is not the spiraling death toll but the unemployment rate, which is conservatively estimated to be around 30 to 40 percent, and has not moved much in the past two years. Given that conditions are almost normal in the Kurdish north, that means the rest of the country has an unemployment rate closer to 50 percent. Whatever we have been doing in Iraq, it is not translating into peace, normalcy and jobs. In parts of the Sunni Triangle, reports suggest that unemployment is more than 70 percent. If you think that Iraq's tumult is a product of its culture, religion and history, ask yourself what the United States would look like after three years of 50 percent unemployment. Would there not be civil strife in Manhattan, Detroit, Los Angeles and New Orleans?

70 percent unemployment in certain Sunni areas is just mind boggling. 50 percent in non-Kurdish Iraq ain't exactly encouraging either. Makes you wonder about the decision to pursue the de-Baathification policy right down to the lower levels - not to mention the disbanding of the Iraqi army.

On the other hand, Bush said we're winning so it's hard to say.

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