The final report released by the Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction concludes that, during the nine-year U.S. presence in Iraq, at least $8 billion – or 13.3 percent of the $60 billion in US reconstruction spending – was wasted.
That report is wrong in my opinion. Its conclusion is off by at least 87.7%. The actual total wasted was 100% which means that the entire $60billion in so-called Iraq reconstruction costs has been flushed down the U.S. toilet.
Add it to the $billions upon $billions more spent on prosecuting the war and the total makes the current spending sequester cost savings look like pocket change.
Approximately $25 billion went to training and equipping the Iraqi security forces, while the remainder into a number of boondoggle development projects ranging from infrastructure construction to governance improvement programs.
The Iraqi reconstruction program constitutes the second-largest nation building effort ever undertaken by the US, superseded only by Afghanistan, where appropriations for reconstruction spending are nearing $100 billion.
I defy any politician to explain to us how the American taxpayer’s received a single dollars worth of value from that totally outrageous spending. All we got from it was more grief. Ten years and $60 billion in taxpayer funds later, Iraq is still so unstable and broken that even its leaders question whether US efforts to rebuild it were worth the cost.
Several Iraqis interviewed for the report now question the value of the money that was spent, saying even the money that can be accounted for was not spent wisely or in such a way that will bring about enduring changes in Iraq.
“There exists limited tangible evidence of any positive effects from the rebuilding program,” concludes the report. “It was a mistake to launch a huge number of programs across numerous geographic and infrastructure sectors rather than devote resources to a finite number of worthy and well-focused projects.”
What worthy and well focused projects?
What in blazes was the political logic behind the U.S. decision to oust Saddam Hussein and tear apart the entire national fabric of Iraq only to blow more precious dollars to rebuild it again?
It’s exactly the same logic behind the decision to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan and tear the entire Afghani national fabric apart only to rebuild it again.
And the people of Iraq and Afghanistan hate our American guts for it.
The size and scope of Iraqi reconstruction was largely a result of the eagerness of the US military and their civilian counterparts to launch a counterinsurgency. The strategy relied heavily on separating the local population from insurgents, and gaining locals' support by providing them with services and assistance.
Throughout both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, soldiers commonly used and use terms such as employing “money as a weapon.”
In his description of the second battle of Fallujah in 2004, US Marine Lieutenant Colonel Leonard DeFrancisci wrote in the Military Review that the Marines sought to undercut insurgent strength by using “a powerful weapon – money – to drive a wedge between the insurgents and the people and help win the second battle of Fallujah.”
Such thinking and strategies were prevalent throughout the Iraq war, with the US military often conducting programs such as microgrant initiatives, where US soldiers gave Iraqis cash with extremely limited oversight.
In other words, the idea was to give the Iraqis money and stuff as a powerful weapon so they would love us.
Does anyone think they love us?
In its final recommendations the report urges that future development spending be delayed until there is a reasonable amount of stability and that initial projects scale back their ambitions and scope. It also suggests oversight of projects starting at their inception.
How about that?
The folks who discovered that the spending was a waste are actually advocating continued spending into the sinkhole of Iraq.
We pitiful Americans are beginning to suffer greatly from the tremendous weight of the national deficit and debt upon our overburdened nation yet there are politicians and bureaucrats who still want to throw away good money in Iraq and Afghanistan – money that we will never see again and for which the American people will receive no benefit whatsoever.
Iraq continues to flush the U.S. toilet leaving the American taxpayers up to our eyeballs in shit.