US administration admits Iraq ‘reconstruction’ failed

This video is called Half of Iraq hit by cholera – 04 Oct 2007.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Report Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders


Published: December 13, 2008

BAGHDAD — An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”

Mr. Powell’s assertion that the Pentagon inflated the number of competent Iraqi security forces is backed up by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former commander of ground troops in Iraq, and L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator until an Iraqi government took over in June 2004.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

By mid-2008, the history says, $117 billion had been spent on the reconstruction of Iraq, including some $50 billion in United States taxpayer money.

The history contains a catalog of revelations that show the chaotic and often poisonous atmosphere prevailing in the reconstruction effort. …

The United States could soon have reason to consult this cautionary tale of deception, waste and poor planning, as troop levels and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are likely to be stepped up under the new administration. …

Titled “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience,” the new history was compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., a Republican lawyer who regularly travels to Iraq and has a staff of engineers and auditors based here. Copies of several drafts of the history were provided to reporters at The New York Times and ProPublica by two people outside the inspector general’s office who have read the draft, but are not authorized to comment publicly. …

On the eve of the invasion, as it began to dawn on a few officials that the price for rebuilding Iraq would be vastly greater than they had been told, the degree of miscalculation was illustrated in an encounter between Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, and Jay Garner, a retired lieutenant general who had hastily been named the chief of what would be a short-lived civilian authority called the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

The history records how Mr. Garner presented Mr. Rumsfeld with several rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq.

“What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan.

“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said.

“My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”

In a way he never anticipated, Mr. Rumsfeld turned out to be correct: before that year was out, the United States had appropriated more than $20 billion for the reconstruction, which would indeed involve projects across the entire country. …

The secondary effects of the invasion and its aftermath were among the most important factors that radically changed the outlook. Tables in the history show that measures of things like the national production of electricity and oil, public access to potable water, mobile and landline telephone service and the presence of Iraqi security forces all plummeted by at least 70 percent, and in some cases all the way to zero, in the weeks after the invasion. …

By the time a sovereign Iraqi government took over from the Americans in June 2004, none of those services — with a single exception, mobile phones — had returned to prewar levels.

Some “sovereign Iraqi government”, with US guns pointed at their heads in the Baghdad green zone … and spied upon by the Bush administration.

As I wrote before: NO schools, hospitals, etc. were built in Iraq since Bush’s March 2003 invasion.

Bush’s Iraq war was officially about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

When that turned out to be lies, the Bush administration flip-flopped to talk about ‘rebuilding’ Iraq, about building houses, schools, hospitals.

Only talk, as the only things built in Iraq, as the US government says, are prisons (apparently, dictator Saddam Hussein had not built enough of those).

Oh yes, and the gigantic new US colonial governor’s building embassy in Baghdad (see also here; and here; including photos; and here).

And yes, I got to admit, walls to keep people apart who had been living together for centuries, but were set against each other in Bush’s and Blair‘s ‘divide and rule strategy‘.

18 thoughts on “US administration admits Iraq ‘reconstruction’ failed

  1. Iraq reconstruction ‘faces uncertainty’
    Pauline Jelinek
    January 30, 2009 – 5:39PM

    The often chaotic and wasteful $US125 billion ($A191.75 billion) Iraq rebuilding effort will face new trouble and uncertainty this year despite the decline in violence there, a US military audit report says.

    A separate report on Afghanistan said there is no coherent strategy for that country’s $US32 billion ($A49.09 billion) reconstruction campaign.

    In Iraq, the nation’s shifting power base and finances will force fundamental changes in the now nearly six-year-old rebuilding effort, as will questions about security when the United States draws combat forces out of Iraqi cities in the northern summer, said the report released on Friday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen.

    A new agreement governing the American presence in Iraq means US contractors will no longer have immunity from Iraqi laws. That could entice some of them to quit the country when the government finishes writing new rules on contractor licensing, taxes, registration of their firearms and so on, the report said.

    Also, the big drop in global oil prices over the past six months has forced Iraqis to trim their budget plans and could have “severe consequences for Iraq reconstruction, fundamentally altering government of Iraq plans to fund large-scale capital improvement projects” themselves, the report said.

    The reconstruction effort in Iraq totals $US125 billion ($A191.75 billion), including US funding of $US51 billion ($A78.23 billion); Iraqi funding of about $US58 billion ($A88.97 billion) and international funding of $US17 billion ($A26.08 billion), not all of which has been spent.

    For Afghanistan, the United States has appropriated but not fully spent $US32 billion ($A49.09 billion) for humanitarian aid and reconstruction while other nations have contributed $US25.3 billion ($A38.81 billion), said a separate report released late on Thursday by the office of Arnold Fields, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

    Congress recently approved creation of the new SIGAR audit office, which mirrors the one set up to oversee Iraq reconstruction spending. That office has routinely found glaring examples of fraud and waste in a wide range of projects to provide police stations, schools, improve basic services such as electricity and water and programs to teach Iraqis skills needed for better governance.

    Fields has been just getting his work underway in recent months.

    “I fear there are major weaknesses in strategy,” he said in only his second quarterly report.

    Although he said his agency has not yet done an in-depth review, he found in recent trips to Afghanistan “a broad consensus … that reconstruction efforts are fragmented and that existing strategies lack coherence”.

    He said government officials there want a greater say in the building plan.

    Retired Marine Major General Fields said he has finished setting up a permanent office in Kabul and has 30 employees at three Afghan locations.

    © 2009 AP


  2. Feb 2, 5:04 AM EST

    Commission gets grim report on wartime spending

    Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A new commission examining waste and corruption in wartime contracts is getting a grim report from government watchdogs who say poor planning, weak oversight and greed combined to soak U.S. taxpayers and undermine American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, says U.S. taxpayers have paid nearly $51 billion for a wide array of projects in Iraq – from training the Iraqi army and police to rebuilding the country’s oil, electric, justice, health and transportation sectors.

    Some of these projects succeeded, Bowen informed the Wartime Contracting Commission at its first public hearing, according to his written testimony, but many did not. Violence in Iraq along with constant friction between U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad were also major factors that undercut progress.

    The U.S. government “was neither prepared for nor able to respond quickly to the ever-changing demands” of stabilizing Iraq and then rebuilding it, Bowen said in his written testimony. “For the last six years we have been on a steep learning curve.”

    A lengthy study by Bowen’s office, “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience,” reviews the problems in an effort the Bush administration initially thought would cost $2.4 billion.

    Overall, the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have paid contractors more than $100 billion since 2003 for goods and services to support war operations and rebuilding projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Congress created the bipartisan panel a year ago over the objections of the Bush White House, which complained the Justice Department might be forced to disclose sensitive information about investigations.

    There are 154 open criminal investigations into allegations of bribery, conflicts of interest, defective products, bid rigging and theft stemming from the wars, Thomas Gimble, the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general, said in his testimony.

    Gimble noted that contracting scandals have gone on since the late 1700s when vendors swindled George Washington’s army.

    “Today, instead of empty barrels of meat, contractors produced inadequate or unusable facilities that required extensive rework,” Gimble says. “Like the Continental Forces who encountered fraud, the (Defense Department) also encounters fraud.”

    Gimble’s office found that a small number of inexperienced civilian or military personnel “were assigned far-reaching responsibilities for an unreasonably large number of contracts.”

    He cites an account tapped frequently by U.S. military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan to build schools, roads and hospitals. More than $3 billion was spent on these projects, which were not always properly managed.

    “In some instances, there appeared to be scant, if any, oversight of the manner in which funds were expended,” Gimble says. “Complicating matters further is the fact that payment of bribes and gratuities to government officials is a common business practice in some Southwest Asia nations.”

    In an advance copy of the “Hard Lessons” report, Bowen says his office found fraud to be less of a problem than persistent inefficiencies and hefty contractor fees that “all contributed to a significant waste of taxpayer dollars.”

    Styled after the Truman Committee, which examined World War II spending six decades ago, the eight-member panel has broad authority to examine military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies.

    The leaders are Mike Thibault, a former deputy director at the Defense Contract Audit Agency, and Grant Green, a former official at both the State and Defense departments.

    The panel has until August 2010 to produce a final report. Along the way, it can refer to the Justice Department any violations of the law it finds.

    The inspectors general at the State Department and USAID were also testifying at Monday’s hearing.

    On the Net:

    Commission on Wartime Contracting:


  3. Posted by: “bigraccoon”

    Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:32 pm (PST)

    Time To Rebuild This Country

    Dec 12, 2011

    Republicans Who Said Yes to War Spending Now Say No to Job-Creating Investments Here at Home

    In the coming days, President Obama will keep his promise to bring a responsible end to the nearly nine-year long Iraq War. This is an important moment for the nation, our men and women in uniform, and for the progressive movement, which fought tirelessly to bring this war to an end.

    Our country, however, still faces many urgent challenges — perhaps none more urgent than putting 14 million Americans back to work. As the Iraq War comes to an end, it’s time to invest some of the savings to rebuild our own country. Yet, the very same Republican leaders who voted to take us to war and committed more than $800 BILLION to the Iraq War without offsetting any of the costs are now refusing to make investments in this country to put millions of Americans back to work and create an economy that works for everyone — even though these programs are fully paid-for.

    Republican Leaders Have Voted for $1 TRILLION in War Spending Since 2002

    From the run-up to the Iraq War in the fall of 2002 through 2010, Congress voted to spend more than $1 TRILLION on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other related costs — including more than $120 BILLION on worthy programs in Iraq and Afghanistan like building roads and schools that are nearly identical to the job-creating investments President Obama and Democrats now want to make in the United States. About four-fifths of this $1 TRILLION in war-related spending — about $800 BILLION — went toward the Iraq War.

    Republican leaders in Congress have almost uniformly supported this spending — with the only exceptions coming in 2009 and 2010 after President Obama came into office. For example:

    Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) voted for $997 BILLION in war-related spending from 2002-2010.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted for for $1.07 TRILLION in war-related spending from 2002-2010.
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)voted for $997 BILLION in war-related spending from 2002-2010.
    Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) voted for $913 BILLION in war-related spending from 2002-2010.
    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted for $1 TRILLION in war-related spending from 2002-2010.
    This spending all went on the national credit card, thanks in no small measure to the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, whose benefits heavily skewed toward the wealthiest Americans and did nothing to create jobs.

    Republican Leaders Refuse to Support Investments Here at Home

    In September, President Obama laid out his plan to put millions of Americans back to work: the American Jobs Act. Republican leaders immediately assailed the proposal — citing its cost and its reliance on asking the very wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

    Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor have refused to even bring the president’s jobs plan to vote in the House of Representatives.
    Sens. McConnell, Kyl, and Graham have repeatedly voted against investing here at home to rebuild America and put Americans back to work:
    Oct. 11: 100 percent of Senate Republicans voted against millions of American jobs in order to protect the very wealthiest Americans — the top 0.5 percent — from having to pay their fair share.
    Oct. 20: 100 percent of Senate Republicans voted against nearly 400,000 jobs for teachers, firefighters, and cops in order to protect the very wealthiest Americans — the top 0.5 percent — from having to pay their fair share.
    Nov. 3: 100 percent of Senate Republicans voted against 450,000 Americans jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, airports, and other critical infrastructure in order to protect the very wealthiest Americans — the top 0.5 percent — from having to pay their fair share.
    Dec. 1: 98 percent of Senate Republicans voted to raise taxes on 160 MILLION working Americans in order to protect just 345,000 millionaires from having to pay their fair share.
    Dec. 8: 98 percent of Senate Republicans voted to raise taxes on 160 MILLION working Americans in order to protect just 345,000 millionaires from having to pay their fair share.
    Unlike the $1 TRILLION in war-related spending over the past decade, these investments in rebuilding America and putting Americans back to work were entirely paid for by asking the very wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

    IN TWO SENTENCES: It’s time to rebuild this country and put Americans back to work. It’s shocking that the same Republican leaders who voted for $1 TRILLION in deficit-financed war spending now refuse to support the fully-paid for investments we need to put Americans back to work and create an economy that works for everyone.


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