Tuesday, December 20, 2005
11 down - 37 to go
Metrics? Since last month's update both Iraq and the Doha round had major events.
- For Iraq, their 3rd election of the year - after the January election it looked like Iraq had made serious progress towards some internal security (March had the lowest US military death toll of the year), but the months of post-election haggling gave the insurgency new life, and US death increased in April and have averaged over 2 dead/day for the rest of the year. Commentators on the right keep arguing that we've turned the corner. Hard to tell, obviously there must be some learning curve after fighting the insurgency for 2+ years, but the other metrics such as oil & electricity are still below pre-war levels. If US death toll averages <40/month>
- Trade - The Doha Round just concluded in Hong Kong, and I'll have to give the Bush administration a B- for their efforts, and if an agreement is submitted to Congress before Bush's fast-track authority runs out in 2007, then will upgrade to a B+. Of course, an agreement for elimination of (most) farm subsidies 8 years in the future, doesn't give cause for great confidence. Too much time for governments to change and for nations to renege on their promises. Perhaps such a tepid agreement is the best the world could hope for today.
- Deficit reduction - the graphs I've seen (may update later if I find one) pretty much show the deficit rebounded from its post-recession low of 4% of GDP to around 3% and has pretty much stayed there, and is likely to remain around 3% of GDP for the rest of Bush's time in office.
The only wager worth updating is troop strength. The political pressure - both here & in Iraq is strong enough that I expect our troop strength to dip below 100,000 by the end of 2006. At that point, the ability of the Iraqis to maintain security will probably be key. Still can't see troop strength going below 50,000 by the end of Bush's term.