When people think about the awful waste of the war in Iraq, they understandably — and properly — tend to concentrate on the loss of life. But the waste of obscene amounts of the public’s money is a monumental tragedy in its own right.
(NY Times) 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.
The United States often promotes the number of rebuilding projects, such as 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 declares that they have been successfully completed. The United States always intended to hand over projects to the Iraqi government when they were completed.
We live in a country where a man can get 16 years in prison for stealing a snickers bar, but defrauding the nation out of hundreds of billions of dollars by using lies to lead us into an unnecessary and disastrous war apparently carries no penalty at all.
Jesus, think of the good those billions of dollars could have done — building a system of universal health insurance, fixing our decaying infrastructure and so much more. But they’re gone forever now, pissed down a hole. Actually, it’s worse than that: at least pissing money down a hole doesn’t do any damage beyond the waste itself. The war in Iraq, on the other hand, has destroyed our international standing, devastated our armed forces and left us far less safe.
The unforgivable fu*king waste of it all.
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