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Why did things go bad for the US in Iraq? Here's why.

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Double Down, Nov 4, 2006.

  1. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Go ahead and throw out the usual talking points if you like. "Consider the source, blah, blah, blah." Of course Krugman is biased. He's a columnist. It doesn't make the facts any less true. Bechtel leaving make it's obvious that we're no longer rebuilding, so what are we still doing there?

    As Bechtel Goes


    Bechtel, the giant engineering company, is leaving Iraq. Its mission — to rebuild power, water and sewage plants — wasn’t accomplished: Baghdad received less than six hours a day of electricity last month, and much of Iraq’s population lives with untreated sewage and without clean water. But Bechtel, having received $2.3 billion of taxpayers’ money and having lost the lives of 52 employees, has come to the end of its last government contract.

    As Bechtel goes, so goes the whole reconstruction effort. Whatever our leaders may say about their determination to stay the course complete the mission, when it comes to rebuilding Iraq they’ve already cut and run. The $21 billion allocated for reconstruction over the last three years has been spent, much of it on security rather than its intended purpose, and there’s no more money in the pipeline.

    The failure of reconstruction in Iraq raises three questions. First, how much did that failure contribute to the overall failure of the war? Second, how was it that America, the great can-do nation, in this case couldn’t and didn’t? Finally, if we’ve given up on rebuilding Iraq, what are our troops dying for?

    There’s no definitive way to answer the first question. You can make a good case that the invasion of Iraq was doomed no matter what, because we never had enough military manpower to provide security. But the lack of electricity and clean water did a lot to dissipate any initial good will the Iraqis may have felt toward the occupation. And Iraqis are well aware that the billions squandered by American contractors included a lot of Iraqi oil revenue as well as U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.

    Consider the symbolism of Iraq’s new police academy, which Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, has called “the most essential civil security project in the country.” It was built at a cost of $75 million by Parsons Corporation, which received a total of about $1 billion for Iraq reconstruction projects. But the academy was so badly built that feces and urine leak from the ceilings in the student barracks.

    Think about it. We want the Iraqis to stand up so we can stand down. But if they do stand up, we’ll dump excrement on their heads.

    As for how this could have happened, that’s easy: major contractors believed, correctly, that their political connections insulated them from accountability. Halliburton and other companies with huge Iraq contracts were basically in the same position as Donald Rumsfeld: they were so closely identified with President Bush and, especially, Vice President Cheney that firing or even disciplining them would have been seen as an admission of personal failure on the part of top elected officials.

    As a result, the administration and its allies in Congress fought accountability all the way. Administration officials have made repeated backdoor efforts to close the office of Mr. Bowen, whose job is to oversee the use of reconstruction money. Just this past May, with the failed reconstruction already winding down, the White House arranged for the last $1.5 billion of reconstruction money to be placed outside Mr. Bowen’s jurisdiction. And now, finally, Congress has passed a bill whose provisions include the complete elimination of his agency next October.

    The bottom line is that those charged with rebuilding Iraq had no incentive to do the job right, so they didn’t.

    You can see, by the way, why a Democratic takeover of the House, if it happens next week, would be such a pivotal event: suddenly, committee chairmen with subpoena power would be in a position to investigate where all the Iraq money went.

    But that’s all in the past. What about the future?

    Back in June, after a photo-op trip to Iraq, Mr. Bush said something I agree with. “You can measure progress in megawatts of electricity delivered,” he declared. “You can measure progress in terms of oil sold on the market on behalf of the Iraqi people.” But what those measures actually show is the absence of progress. By any material measure, Iraqis are worse off than they were under Saddam.

    And we’re not planning to do anything about it: the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is basically over. I don’t know whether the administration is afraid to ask U.S. voters for more money, or simply considers the situation hopeless. Either way, the United States has accepted defeat on reconstruction.

    Yet Americans are still fighting and dying in Iraq. For what?
  2. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    Bechtel has had connections to a lot of Republican heavyweights during the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations. For them to leave is something that should tell you a lot
  3. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    "Why did things go bad for the US in Iraq? Here's why."

    "Because Truman was too much of a pussy-wimp to let MacArthur go in and blow out those Commie bastards!!"


    "Good answer."
  4. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Krugman's job is to delineate all the truths Georgie-Porgie can't stand to hear.

    Has done a helluva job doing it, over the years, too.
  5. Krugman -- Doing The Job Friedman Should Have Been Doing Since 2001.
  6. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    You mean "Things will be more clear in six months" Friedman?

    He gets paid for this, too.
  7. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Here's a similar story that appeared in Friday's LA Times business section.

    Apropos of nothing, this board spends way too much time arguing over who the author of a story or study is, and little actually debating the facts inside the piece. That is, after all the name calling and second-grade insults are thrown.

    The money shot:
    The looting and vandalism outpaced the rebuilding from the beginning.

    In May 2003, the supposed end of open warfare, a survey of Iraq's dilapidated electrical system showed 13 downed transmission towers. Four months later, the total had grown to 623.

    "We were trying to hold the infrastructure together and at the same time build a platform to go forward and at the same time cope with a deteriorating security situation," said Mumm, who recently returned to the U.S. "There were a lot of moving parts."

    The company's critics give it points for remaining free of corruption, unlike some Iraq contractors. But they say it was too slow in restoring the power grid.

    "In the critical years of 2003 and 2004, part of the growing sense in the Iraqi population that Americans were incompetent occupiers rather than effective liberators came because Bechtel hadn't gotten the power grid on in the scorching hot summers," said Charles Tiefer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and an expert on government contracting. "American corporate reconstruction efforts like Bechtel's failed worse in Iraq than American arms."

    The lack of an infrastructure fed the insurgency, which made it its goal to destroy the infrastructure. As time went on, Bechtel spent increasing amounts not on rebuilding but on protecting its workers.

    Now that the reconstruction funds are running out, the fate of the Iraq infrastructure, like so much else in the country, is uncertain.
  8. Ooh, somebody looked in the mirror this morning and saw a grown-up looking back!
    Lectures on etiquette from the Muslim-child-standing-on-the-flag guy.
  9. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Maybe some day it will happen to you.
  10. Lose the kid on the flag and we can talk about maturity, OK?
  11. Yawn

    Yawn New Member

    It seems as though there were rampant stories about lack of utilities and other services WHILE Hussein was in charge.

    Carry on.
  12. Paste.
    Tastes good and is good for you.
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