It is one of the ultimate ironies of the Iraq invasion that a country with enormous oil supplies has such a horrible power situation. It also demonstrates just how difficult the situation over there is. In America we are used to having electricity on demand all the time. We don't have to worry about fridges going out or whether our dialysis machine can draw the juice it needs, at least for the most part. Likewise when power DOES go out, we have the reasonable expectation that this will be dealt with shortly. Our repair crews never come under fire, we never hear about people trying to steal wiring, and intentional sabotage of power lines is extraordinarily rare.
Iraq is a totally different story. When the rule of law breaks down you can't assume ANYTHING. The idea of crews of looters beating the official repair people to the fallen towers may seem ludicrous but it's the reality over there. The concept of needing security forces for a repair crew is completely foreign to us (who is going to attack a repair crew?) It's a fact of life there.
The truth is that nobody comes off well in this story. The Americans have failed to protect vital infrastructure from attack. The insurgents are doing more damage to the local populace than to the army or American government (which has first dibs on power and its own generators anyway.) The looters are thinking in the short term, exacerbating a problem that will have severe economic consequences for the country. When everyone is dispossessed and nobody has "bought in" to the government the result is a society out of control. The only way to re-establish control is to A) Develop political legitimacy or B) Use force. A lot of force. Enough force that stealing wires isn't worth the risk.
America can't do either of these things. We don't have any shot at political legitimacy over there. We don't have the political will to use sufficient force (We're talking raiding neighborhoods and arresting or shooting sympathizers. We're talking bulldozing city blocks. We're talking public executions. We're talking Saddam level force.)
This is why we need to get out. Because until we do the situation will just slowly degenerate. Once we leave there will be upheaval and bloodshed and someone will emerge with enough legitimacy or military power to rule the country. It may be one of the tribal leaders. It may be a religious authority. It will likely be Iran. There really isn't any other way this can play out. The society is fundamentally broken and you don't fix that with 30,000 more troops. We may have had a chance to achieve legitimacy when we first invaded but that's gone now. We've lost. Time to go home.