In Sept. 2003, President Bush promised that he would help Iraqis “restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. This effort is essential to the stability of those nations, and therefore, to our own security.”
Before the war, Baghdad residents received 16-24 average hours of electricity each day. But on July 19, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said that residents of Baghdad are now receiving just one or two hours of electricity each day — the lowest level of the war:
The hard fact is, Senator, the availability of electricity — (off mike) — in Baghdad is still at very low levels — an hour or two a day. It’s better in much of the rest of the country, but — (off mike) — Baghdad in the middle of summer. There are a lot of reasons for it, and the main reasons have to do with continued attacks by insurgents against the electrical transmission lines and against the fuel pipeline that provide the — (inaudible) — that you need to generate electricity. It’s one more in a long series of problems, but it’s a very real problem for many, many Iraqis.
But as the LA Times notes, “that piece of data has not been sent to lawmakers for months because the State Department, which prepares a weekly ‘status report’ for Congress on conditions in Iraq, stopped estimating in May how many hours of electricity Baghdad residents typically receive each day.” Instead, the State Department is just reporting electricity levels nationwide, which “does not indicate how much power Iraqis in Baghdad or elsewhere actually receive.”
Crocker’s excuse that it’s “the middle of the summer” is not an explanation for the abysmally low electricity levels. Last year in July — before Bush’s surge — Baghdad received seven hours/day (data compiled by The Brookings Institution):
Earlier this month, Crocker told CBS News that electricity “is more important to the average Iraqi than all 18 benchmarks rolled up into one.”
Editor’s Note: We left June off the chart because no State Department data is available. July is based on Crocker’s remarks.
UPDATE: On June 14, 2006, Bush spoke about ways to measure progress in Iraq, stating, “You can measure progress in megawatts of electricity delivered.”