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Saturday, July 28, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the NYT: As U.S. Rebuilds, Iraq Won’t Act on Finished Work

Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.

The conclusions, detailed in a report released Friday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, a federal oversight agency, include the finding that of 2,797 completed projects costing $5.8 billion, Iraq’s national government had, by the spring of this year, accepted only 435 projects valued at $501 million. Few transfers to Iraqi national government control have taken place since the current Iraqi government, which is frequently criticized for inaction on matters relating to the American intervention, took office in 2006.

This is an excellent and telling example of why those who pin their hopes on The Surge, Petraeus or Sunni responses to AQI in Anbar are missing the real problem in Iraq: there is no functioning state and it is unlikely that there will be one anytime soon.

The situation also underscores that even when the administration is providing the much vaunted “good news” that many say is suppressed that, in fact, we aren’t being given the whole picture:

The United States often promotes the number of rebuilding projects, like power plants and hospitals, that have been completed in Iraq, citing them as signs of progress in a nation otherwise fraught with violence and political stalemate. But closer examination by the inspector general’s office, headed by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., has found that a number of individual projects are crumbling, abandoned or otherwise inoperative only months after the United States declared that they had been successfully completed.

So, money, time and lives down the drain for projects that are “abandoned or otherwise inoperative” soon after we hand them over.

The administration clearly had no idea what it was getting into in this war and had no idea how complicated post-invasion circumstances were going to be. You can’t go in, break things, and then hope for the best. Just like handing a constitution to people does not automatically mean a functional government exists, so, too, handing over new facilities to people unprepared to use them does not mean the infrastructure is fixed:

In one of the most recent cases, a $90 million project to overhaul two giant turbines at the Dora power plant in Baghdad failed after completion because employees at the plant did not know how to operate the turbines properly and the wrong fuel was used. The additional power is critically needed in Baghdad, where residents often have only a few hours of electricity a day.

The following pretty much sums the situation up:

“To build something and not have these issues resolved from top to bottom is unfathomable,” said William L. Nash, a retired general who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on Middle East reconstruction. “The management of the reconstruction program for Iraq has been a near-total disaster from the beginning.”

Indeed.

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3 Responses to “More Signs of Fiasco in Iraq”

  1. More Signs of Fiasco in Iraq « Les dessous de l’actualité mondiale Says:

    [...] http://poliblogger.com/?p=12305 U.S. auditor says Iraqi refusal to assume projects could cost U.S. more money The Associated PressPublished: July 28, 2007 [...]

  2. Pros and Cons » GWOT Update, Updated Says:

    [...] UPDATE: Though the military and political progress (as in seperating the woirst actors from those who think similarly, but not identically) is undeniable, iraq remains a venal Arab Muslim country rather than,k say, Finland, or even Ireland, as Poliblogger points out. Not all that much worse than Mexico, which Dr. Taylor should be aware of as a Latin America expert, though obviously absent the self-detonators and head-choppers. [...]

  3. PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Humanitarian Situation in Iraq (and Other Comments on the Situation) Says:

    [...] Coupled with the report I noted yesterday on the state of the rebuilding effort, the overall picture for Iraq is not especially rosy, even if there have been improvements in the security situation (see (via today’s NYT: .A War We Just Might Win). [...]


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