In summary, none of the three sources that make up Iraq’s CPI score draw on the “experience and perceptions of those who see first hand the realities of corruption” in Iraq given that neither local businesspeople or resident experts contribute to the assessments. This poses a serious problem given that the perceptions of non-resident experts are often shaped by the same third party sources. It is also astonishing that the CPI should rely on surveys and reports that are particularly brief and general in their assessment of corruption.
Misinterpreting the CPI
Critics argue that incorrect interpretation of the CPI by the media is the rule rather than the exception. The Index ranks countries according to their aggregated score, but Transparency International maintains that the CPI should not be used to compare levels of corruption between countries. This has not stopped credible journalists and country experts from not only making incorrect claims, but attributing them to Transparency International. Following the release of CPI 2009, the BBC remarked, “War-torn nations remain the world's most corrupt, Transparency International (TI) has said.”
Even the renowned commentator on Iraq, Patrick Cockburn, declared, “Iraq is the world’s premier kleptomaniac state. According to Transparency International the only countries deemed more crooked than Iraq are Somalia and Myanmar, while Haiti and Afghanistan rank just behind.”
Transparency International also maintains that the index is not suitable for monitoring a country’s progress over time. Yet comparisons such as “Iraq saw some improvement, rising to 176 of 180 countries, up two places up from last year” are commonplace. This is a critical point, since changes in perceptions of corruption over time do not necessarily infer changes in actual corruption.
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