COMMENTS: Progress is Unphenomenal

The fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq saw Vice President Dick Cheney visit Baghdad. NBC's Richard Engel reported on Cheney's discovery of "phenomenal progress" in the past ten months--on a day that more than 70 Iraqi civilians were killed: "The worst attack was a suicide bombing in Karbala." Engel explained that all women in that holy Shiite city wear voluminous capes. A bomber hid explosives underneath her clothing that killed 40 pilgrims.

As it does on every anniversary of the start of the war, ABC commissioned an opinion poll on the progress of reconstruction in a consortium with fellow broadcasters BBC, ARD and NHK. Terry McCarthy filed a Where Things Stand report that confirmed VP Cheney's impression of progress yet stopped short of his "phenomenal." McCarthy advised that "you cannot say life is good in Iraq today, not yet, only that life is less bad." Majorities of Iraqis called the healthcare system bad; do not have enough electricity; and a growing minority would like to emigrate. Troops out sentiment is overwhelming--73% oppose the US military occupation--but the sticking point is the pace of the withdrawal: "Only 38% want US troops to leave now."


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