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Surprise ending: Occupation over

(Page 3 of 3)



In the last CPA press conference, spokesman Dan Senor listed efforts to change Iraq's "proto-Stalinist" economy as major CPA achievements, speaking of limits on tax rates, an "unbelievably liberalized economy [and] in the long run a very foreign investment friendly environment." A senior CPA legal advisor defended the work done "as time well spent" and argued that the laws are unlikely to be repealed.

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Former CPA advisers, past and present, say that American missionary zeal came at the expense of understanding a Byzantine Iraqi political culture composed of overlapping networks of tribes, friendships, and patronage that sometimes led the US astray, even when doing the right thing.

Power to the people

In Baghdad, one of the major gripes against the CPA is that electricity is down from prewar levels, averaging about 12 hours a day for the city's residents, as compared with about 20 hours before the war. That isn't because there isn't enough power in Iraq, but because Bremer's CPA decided to more equitably distribute power across the country.

Saddam systematically diverted power away from most Iraqi cities to the benefit of Baghdad and towns where he had strong support. But some CPA officials now wonder at the political wisdom of taking away power from a city that's home to a third of Iraq's 27 million people.

Now as the CPA leaves Iraq, US policy has come full circle. In recent months, US officials have sought to rehabilitate many former Baath officials and restore them to their old jobs, and large numbers of the former Iraqi army are being called up to the new Iraqi Army, which Prime Minister Allawi hopes to use against Iraq's insurgency. "We understand how security works here, we understand how the people work here,'' says Shibib. "We're going to get the country on the right course."

The key criteria - indeed practically the only criteria - that most Iraqis say they'll judge the interim government on will be if it can provide the security and stability that the CPA didn't.

"We're in the middle of a cultural and moral revolution," says Munir Al-Khafaji, a teacher sitting in a cafe in Baghdad's largely Shiite Karrada neighborhood who spent three years in Abu Ghraib prison for dissident activity under Hussein. "American soldiers can't tell friends from enemies here. We can. So I'm hoping we're going to be safer. But a lot of domestic political circumstances need to be settled - real change will come after elections."

CPA report card

Iraq budget

2003: $6.3 billion

2004: $22.4 billion (projected)

OIL EXPORTS (barrels per day)

Now: 1.58 million

Prewar: 1.3 million

Internet subscribers

Now: 60,000

Prewar: 3,000 (2002)

UNEMPLOYMENT

Now: 28%

Immediately after war: 60%

SCHOOLS

Renovated more than 2,500

Teacher salaries:

Now: $120 a month (average)

Prewar: $5 to $66 a month

ELECTRICITY

Now: Baghdad 9-15 hours a day,

most other areas 8 hours a day or less

Prewar: Baghdad up to 24 hours

a day, most other areas

4 hours a day

HEALTH BUDGET

Now: $950 million

Prewar: $16 million (2002)

Troops in Iraq:

US: 138,000

Coalition: 20,000

Iraqi security personnel: 226,765

Deaths

US troops: 844

Coalition troops: 116

Iraqi military: 4,895-6,370 (est.)

Iraqi civilian: 9,436-11,317 (est.)

Iraqi Confidence in CPA

Nov. 2003: 47%

May 2004: 11%

Sources: Department of Defense, Coalition Provisional Authority, Newsweek, wire services, globalsecurity.org, iraqbodycount.net

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