In his June 14th Rose Garden remarks following his trip to Baghdad, George Bush stated that America was establishing new “benchmarks” for progress in Iraq. Besides improving security, boosting oil production, training judges, providing economic advice and helping check corruption, one of the most important objectives was to increase electricity output.
If there is one area where progress has been dismal, it’s energy. As Media Matters reports, the Administration has tried to spin the fact the situation has improved. To the extent power production meets or exceeds pre-war levels, however, the shortfall has increased dramatically given the rapid rise in demand.
Studying the Administration’s latest propaganda offensive on Iraq, the so-called momentum Bush has generated seems largely confined to wishful thinking, policy spin and strategic photo ops.
Take this dog-and-pony show at the new Baghdad South Power Plant on June 2nd, for example. The pictures, featuring (from right to left above) Iraqi Electricity Minister Karim Waheen, U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad and Prime Minister Maliki, look quite energetic, keeping with the “we’ve turned the corner” theme now coming from the Repubs.
In his remarks to the press, however, Mr. Waheen was less than encouraging. Reviewing the situation in Baghdad, power remains limited to eight hours per day — with two hours on followed by four hours off. Even more devastating, Waheen said that Iraq would require a foreign investment of $20 billion to resuscitate its power industry — this coming at a point at which the U.S. is scaling back reconstruction funds.
Given the p.r. value, its no wonder the photo above (consistent with most taken that day) is centered around the U.S. Ambassador. (Just to heighten the self-consciousness, notice how Waheen stares toward the camera, as if too mindful of its role.)
Also, notice this pic of Waheen making a presentation to the Prime Minister. Given Khalilzad’s boredom and the “stage crew”-like stationing of the workers (as contrasted with the rapt engagement of what looks like a reporter), you wonder if these guys feel like actors in a commercial for the occupation.
(image 1 & 2: Ali Haider/Reuters. Baghdad June 2, 2006. Via YahooNews.)