Thursday, February 17, 2005

Post-election Iraq: are things getting better?

Roger Cohen of the International Herald Tribune has a definite view:

Just over a year ago, on my last visit, I was able to drive north to Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and south to the Shiite holy city of Najaf. These were not drives where you sit back and enjoy the scenery. But the journeys were feasible, at high speed and some risk.

Today, no Westerner with any vestige of sanity would contemplate making such trips. It is not merely that images of beheadings prey on the mind. It is not simply that this month's kidnapping of Giuliana Sgrena of the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto formed part of a pattern. It is that, by any rational assessment, the danger is unacceptable.

By that crude yardstick, things are getting worse. Jonathan Garratt, managing director of Erinys, a British security company with over 1,000 employees here, says Iraq is "the worst operating environment as far as safety goes anywhere I've ever known." That, of course, is not bad for his firm. Security is Iraq's main growth industry.

Garratt's perspective reminds me of Ronald Reagan's famous bon mot that what makes America great is that "there's always somebody getting rich."

No comments: