January 15, 2007
Positive signs in Iraq
A look at the price of the Iraqi dinar through today, Jan. 15, shows that it keeps moving up. If you go to the Central Bank of Iraq site and scroll down to the bottom you will see the most recent data. Note the explosion in dollar value of trading.
Yes, it is always possible that this whole thing is one grand manipulation, but since the dinar is not a focus of the press, my guess is that it is not, that we are "really seeing" the market here. Which means that "something is going on" in Iraq.
I find it very difficult to assemble the mosaic here. Bush is responding to the chaos in Baghdad, so much so that he is willing to publicly imply he was clueless as recently as October when he said we were winning. So, he is responding to a "crisis" in our Iraq policy. Correctly so far as I know.
But then we have Amir Taheri, who is in-country. Another column this morning in the New York Post is saying (again) that while there are problems in Iraq, things are also cooking. He adds another tile to the mosaic today by pointing out just how inaccurate press stories may be due to the corruption of interpretation - both from politics and from cupidity.
I wonder if the outcome in Iraq isn't going to look something like Israel before The Fence. Israel was under steady suicide bomber attack, but that was not the whole story. While the attacks were damaging, the country continued to operate on a day to day basis. Yes, I am sure the level of violence is much greater in Iraq and much, much greater in Baghdad, but I wonder just how significant it is. Yes, refugees are up, apparently made up of the professional class, but then... how to explain Taheri's columns, that things are sort of OK in the south of the country? And the dinar? What does that say? And that crude production is at 2.1 million bbl/day - yes, not great, but not a disaster, particularly given the forces that are trying to prevent production.
If one puts that fecklessness aside and focuses only on "where are we now?" I am not sure that it is a disaster. It is not going to be as nice as we would have liked - some violence is likely to be in the background, but violence is not unusual in some cities in various locales around the world.