In the perpetual evaluation of how much (or how little) progress Iraq is making these days, the government in Baghdad faces another unwanted superlative—third most corrupt country in the world.
Iraq ranks above only lawless Somalia and the repressive regime in Burma for the perceived level of corruption among the 179 countries analyzed in the annual survey by Transparency International. Iraq scored even lower than it did last year, somehow managing to outdo even a notorious offender like Haiti.
Iraq's ranking is another reminder that the U.S.-led rebuilding effort still has a long way to go toward creating a functioning government that can manage its own affairs, a key prerequisite for an eventual U.S. troop withdrawal.
The news for Afghanistan, the site of another large U.S. aid effort, is not much better. Kabul was tied for 172nd place with Sudan and Chad.
There was good news, however, for some African countries in the survey. Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Swaziland all showed significant improvement, which Transparency International attributes to successful reform efforts to stamp out corruption.
At the top of the list, Denmark has joined New Zealand and Finland as the countries with the lowest perceived levels of corruption. The United States ranks 20th.
— Kevin Whitelaw