A recent study in Iraq found that acute malnutrition in children under 5 has nearly doubled, from 4 to 7.7 percentthats 400,000 kids suffering from severe "wasting," often because a contaminated water supply has given them chronic, life-threatening diarrhea. Among their parents, unemployment is rampant. And the desperate economic situation, along with unrestored water and electricity, helps feed Iraqs violence: When the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) closed down radical cleric Moqtada al Sadrs newspaper in March 2004, it cited an article accusing CPA head Paul Bremer of "starving the Iraqi people."
Instead of pragmatically working to get the lights, water, and jobs back on, the U.S.-led occupation immediately forced on Iraq what The Economist called "the kind of wish-list that foreign investors dream of": a smaller government workforce and no taxes or restrictions on corporations importing anything, buying anything but oil businesses, or taking any profit out of the country without reinvesting a dime. One of Bremers economic advisers called Iraq "something like the California gold rush and the Wild Wild West combined."