Iraq moves closer to failed state territory

Reuters reports, via Juan Cole, that unemployment, inflation, and poverty are all at astonishingly high rates in Iraq.

Unemployment is tearing children out of school to help supplement the family income, which will, long-term, hurt the prospects for a productive and contributing middle class, the backbone of any society:

In Iraq, despite the government working hard to fight poverty in the country, the situation has not changed. Indeed, the opposite is happening. Unemployment is rising and more and more children are leaving school to work and supplement their parents’ income.

And this bracing poverty is not limited to a few people here and there, with nearly 20 percent of the country suffering:

“Nearly 5.6 millions Iraqis are living below the poverty line, according to our most recent studies. At least 40 percent of this number is living in absolute and desperate deteriorated conditions,” said Sinan Youssef, a senior official in the strategy department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, adding that this level of poverty is a 35 percent increase over the level before 2003.

Forty percent of 5.6 million is 2,240,000 Iraqis living in “absolute and desperate deteriorated conditions.” For us, freedom means stability, self-determination, and the rule of law (minus, of course, habeas corpus, as of yesterday); for them, it means anarchy, danger, and poverty.

Still, it would be different if we were at least improving things, but this level of poverty is a 35 percent increase over the level pre-2003. Heckuva job.

Finally, lest you think this is a sad story but irrelevant to the greater war, an expert is quoted saying,

When people find that they cannot support their family with food and other supplies, they search desperately for any kind of job. Insurgents use this weakness. They use these guys for terrorist activities in exchange for the promise of good money.

On the bright side, Iraq is increasingly looking like the conservative dream: No regulation whatsoever, small government, the right to bear arms is vigorously held and utilized, and no safety net — economic or otherwise — for anyone. Hard to imagine that an administration could single-handedly ruin the Freedom brand for the Middle East and the developing world, but I think this one has done it.

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