If we didn't understand before just how bad things are in Iraq, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi certainly convinced us with his performance in Washington on Thursday. Seeking to downplay reports of violence in his country, Allawi suggested that large portions of Iraq are happy and trouble-free. "So really," Allawi said, "if you care to look at Iraq properly, and go from Basra to Nasiriyah to Kut to Diyala to Najaf to Karbala to Diwaniya to Samaraa to Kirkuk to Sulaymaniyah to Dahuk to Arbil, there are no problems. It's safe, it's good. "
We're not experts in Iraqi geography, but we're pretty good at Google. And a few searches Thursday showed either that Allawi is as out of touch as the American president, or that the situation in Iraq is so bad overall that a region with only the occasional roadside bombing or assassination attempt is now considered "safe" and "good."
Consider just a few of Allawi's pleasure spots:
Diyala: Ten days ago in Baqubah, a city in the province of Diyala, gunmen opened fire on a van of Iraqi policemen. At least 11 people were killed.
Kirkuk: In Kirkuk earlier this month, a car bomb killed at least 20 people and wounded 36 more.
Najaf: Just this week, U.S. forces and Iraqi police arrested aides to Muqtada al-Sadr in a pre-dawn raid. The take, according to Iraq's minister of state: enough weapons to fill five trucks, including "large amounts" of dynamite and other explosives and 100 AK-47 rifles.
Dahuk: Although this northern province is apparently largely peaceful, its governor was the target of a roadside-bomb assassination attempt earlier this month.
Basra: While Basra is also held up as a "success story" in Iraq, a BBC correspondent working there now says that reporters "wouldn't dream of" staying in Basra on their own because the "chances of being kidnapped are too great."
Repeat after us: "There are no problems. It's safe, it's good."