THis is more bad news for those whose hope of election next year are pinned to portraying Iraq as a miserable failure:
lessening the risk of being hit by shoulder-fired missiles. The war-blasted facility is back in full working order, and half a dozen big airlines have been licensed to use it. But the terror threat remains too pressing to admit anything but these costly charter flights, underwritten by the American government, from Amman, neighbouring Jordan’s capital.
To the motley bunch of aid workers, reporters and spies on board, the flights would give travel to Iraq a semblance of the ordinary, were it not for the sharp approach angle and the greeting party of grim, gun-toting ex-Ghurkas at Baghdad’s near-deserted terminal. Similarly, life in the country, for most of its citizens, would be approaching normal patterns, were it not for uncertainty about the future, anxiety over crime and violence, and the heavy footfall of foreign soldiers.
For many Iraqis, living standards have already risen a lot. Boosted by government make-work programmes, day labourers are getting double their pre-war wages. A university dean’s pay has gone up fourfold, a policeman’s by a factor of ten.
Before the war, Kifah Karim, a teacher at a Baghdad primary school, took home monthly pay equivalent to just $6. Her husband earned $13 as a factory overseer. Today, with a combined income of close to $450, they no longer rely on gifts of meat from Mrs Karim’s brother, a butcher, to buttress a diet dominated by government food rations. They buy 2-3 kilos of meat a week, and have recently purchased a new fridge, a television, a TV satellite dish, a VCR and a CD player.
You can hear the ANSWER crowd screaming- look at all that blatant consumer consumption! Here is the money quote:
It is proving much harder than the Americans expected, but the rebuilding of a shattered country is still going steadily ahead.