Insurgents cutting off Baghdad's power

A report in the New York Times says that in the battle over Baghdad's power supply, the insurgents are winning.

Published December 19, 2006 3:52PM (EST)

The failure of American and Iraqi forces to provide reliable electrical services in Baghdad has been a persistent, and serious, problem for much of the post-invasion period, decreasing the credibility of Americans and of the new government in the eyes of many residents there. Now, the New York Times says, the insurgents are capitalizing on that failure and making the problem worse.

The Times reports that insurgent attacks have essentially isolated the city from outside power sources, forcing it to rely on outdated and overworked plants inside the city. One problem with the city's plants, the Times notes, is the failure of Americans working on reconstruction to plan ahead: They installed one plant that uses powerful engines that can only run on the kind of highly refined fuel that war-torn Iraq is not currently capable of producing.

What's particularly interesting about the Times' article is the discrepancy between the accounts of the Iraqi electricity minister, who seems deeply pessimistic about the situation, and "Western officials," who are described as "generally more optimistic." Seems to us like a parable for the war as a whole.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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