Bush says "progress is uneven" in Iraq, but accentuates positive evidence and mostly ignores the negative. June 30, 2005
Standing before a crowd of uniformed soldiers, President Bush addressed the nation on June 27 to reaffirm America's commitment to the global war on terrorism. But throughout the speech Bush continually stated his opinions and conclusions as though they were facts, and he offered little specific evidence to support his assertions.
Here we provide some additional context, both facts that support Bush's case that "we have made significant progress" in Iraq, as well as some of the negative evidence he omitted.
Bush's prime-time speech at Fort Bragg, NC coincided with the one-year anniversary of the handover of soverignty to Iraqi authorities. It was designed to lay out America's role in Iraq amid sinking public support for the war and calls by some lawmakers to withdraw troops.
Bush acknowledged the high level of violence in Iraq as he sought to reassure the public.
Bush: The work in Iraq is difficult and dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it?
What Bush did not mention is that by most measures the violence is getting worse. Both April and May were record months in Iraq for car bombings, for example, with more than 135 of them being set off each month. And the bombings are getting more deadly. May was a record month for deaths from bombings, with 381 persons killed in "multiple casualty" bombings that took two or more lives, according to figures collected by the Brookings Institution in its "Iraq Index." The Brookings index is compiled from a variety of sources including official government statistics, where those are available, and other public sources such as news accounts and statements of Iraqi government officials.
The number of Iraqi police and military who have been killed is also rising, reaching 296 so far in June, nearly triple the 109 recorded in January and 103 in Febrary, according to a tally of public information by the website Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a private group that documents each fatality from public statements and news reports. Estimates of the total number of Iraqi civilians killed each month as a result of "acts of war" have been rising as well, according to the Brookings index.
The trend is also evident in year-to-year figures.
In the past twelve months, there have been 25% more U.S. troop fatalities and nearly double the average number of insurgent attacks per day as there were in the preceeding 12 months.
In talking about Iraqi reconstruction, Bush highlighted the positive and omitted the negative:
Bush: We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. . . . Our progress has been uneven but progress is being made. We are improving roads and schools and health clinics and working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity and water. And together with our allies, we will help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens.
Indeed, the State Department's most recent "Iraq Weekly Status Report" shows progress is uneven. Education is a positive; official figures show 3,056 schools have been rehabilitated and millions of "student kits" have been distributed to primary and secondary schools. School enrollments are increasing. And there are also 145 new primary healthcare centers currently under construction. The official figures show 78 water treatment projects underway, nearly half of them completed, and water utility operators are regularly trained in two-week courses.
On the negative side, however, State Department figures show overall electricity production is barely above pre-war levels. Iraqis still have power only 12 hours daily on average.
Iraqis are almost universally unhappy about that. Fully 96 percent of urban Iraqis said they were dissatisfied when asked about "the availability of electricity in your neighborhood." That poll was conducted in February for the U.S. military, and results are reported in Brookings' "Iraq Index." The same poll also showed that 20 percent of Iraqi city-dwellers still report being without water to their homes.
Read More at FactCheck.org