What’s Tha’ Time? It’s TimeTa Get Shrill!

Reading this story literally made me froth with rage:

The US government will complete just a fraction of the planned massive reconstruction projects in Iraq before $18.4 billion in federal funding runs out next year, according to a government audit released yesterday.

The audit by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, which oversees the rebuilding budget, states that only 49 of 136 planned water projects will be finished by 2007, the deadline Congress has set for the allocation. About 300 of 425 electricity projects will be done by then, according to the audit.

Projects addressing water and sewer problems and electricity shortages had initially attracted the largest US commitment among public works projects.

OK, so the administration fucked up the Iraqi reconstruction. That’s old news. But here’s the kicker (emphasis mine):

[C]ritics said the government’s decision to take on the massive job of rebuilding Iraq’s badly-damaged infrastructure — a project of a scale not seen since the reconstruction of Europe after World War II — was ill-conceived from the beginning.

”We should have gone into Iraq with a more limited set of promises,” said James Dobbins, who served as President Bush’s special envoy to Afghanistan and who now directs the Center for International Security and Defense Studies at the Rand Corp. ”We should have gone in saying [to Iraqis], ‘We are going to let you chose your own government, and if you work hard, and that government makes wise choices, you’ll eventually have a better life.’ Instead, we made a series of implicit promises to the Iraqi people of more electricity, better water, other improvements in the quality of life.”

We invaded and occupied their country. We destroyed what was left of their infrastructure. And this guy seriously thinks we should have told them, “Well, little fellas, you’re on your own! I’m sorry your country got blown up, but if you work really hard, you might have a working sewer system by the year 2254!”

Here’s a question I have for those people who supported this war with the sincere belief that it would transform Iraq into a shining free beacon of free shiny freedom in the Middle East: why aren’t you angry? This administration promised to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure and has failed to meet any of its goals. Doesn’t that upset you? Don’t you think that someone in the administration (like, oh, I dunno, Rummy) should be held accountable for this debacle?

OK, let’s continue with the article- there’s plenty of juicy bits toward the end:

The United States’ failure to keep those promises, Dobbins said, ”will have an undoubted impact on American credibility” among Iraqis.

Well, that and the fact that we fucking tortured a bunch of people.

Although the audit said fighting the guerrilla insurgency has consumed increasingly large chunks of the reconstruction budget, there were other significant reasons the plan will fall short of its goal.

Some of the initial plans for reconstruction ”were hurriedly put together with little knowledge of actual conditions at proposed project sites,” according to the audit.

Well, that’s what happens when you try rebuilding an entire country by employing a bunch of dorky twentysomethings who were only hired because they’d posted their r&eacutesum&eacutes on the Heritage Foundation website.

US officials also failed to budget for the cost of sustaining and maintaining completed projects, on the assumption that the nascent Iraqi government could immediately fund them, the audit said. As a result, the report said, US officials have been forced to re-route $775 million from the new construction budget to keep completed projects up and running.

It’s difficult to assess how the failure to complete the projects will affect ordinary Iraqis, the audit said.

In a nation where power is rationed and blackouts are common, the United States will fall well short of its target of adding 3,400 megawatts of electricity to the system, and half of the money set aside for water projects has been diverted to other priorities, according to the audit. As a result, the goal of bringing clean water to 4 million Iraqis has been reduced to about 2.75 million; about 40 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people didn’t have access to clean water in 2004, the audit said.

Yeah, so 40% of the people don’t have access to clean water. Big deal. Who needs water when you’ve got purple ink stains on your fingers?

And by the way, if anyone thinks that I’m gloating about the administration’s failures, they’re wrong. I am angry that my government decided to invade Iraq without any postwar plan to rebuild the country. I am embarrassed that my government made promises to rebuild Iraq and then proceeded to horribly botch all of its efforts at reconstruction. And to to top it all off, I am ashamed that my government is now planning to cut off Iraqi rebuilding funds entirely. The question I have for war supporters is, “Why aren’t you angry too?”


Comments: 20


They will never be angry because now they can point to Bush’s awesome debate against Gore back in 2000 and say, “See, Bush himself was against nation building, why are you now surprised that he’s not doing it?”

That, or the whole ‘democracy in Iraq’ thing was really only a fig leaf covering their unceasing support of crippling and killing brown people in order to save them.


They’re zero for zero on justifications for the invasion, and the mouthbreathers STILL cheer. It seems the mere fact that Bush did it justifies it in their eyes, regardless of how badly he’s fucked it up.


The thing is, there is genuine anger among some war supporters who actually believed (however wrongly) that we could transform the Middle East: see George Packer, Belgravia Dispatch, Sully.

But as for the rest of them… well, I think they just enjoy invading countries.


As we see, the last pre-war rational for being in the country-helping the Iraqis create a democracy-has just been tossed out the window. Does this mean talking heads on Fox News will stop crowing about the number of schools being built? Probably so. Does it mean they’ll wonder how this came to be, and wonder maybe if the President’s awful failure to plan for this war might have something to do with it? Probably not.



I had thought about the ‘liberal/messianic hawk’ angle, but realistically, there weren’t that many of them, they are overrepresented in the media/political sphere and they were overly credulous, willing idiots to trust and/or believe this president. Sure, they’re mad, but what the fuck are they going to do about it? They’re just mad at the execution of the war, as if there was the possibility of a better outcome to this madness — an ad hoc war based on lies and/or utter distortions in the name of fear.

Most of the most egregious characters made their nut out of this war. They got fat off the no-bid contracts, they won their election, they mau-maued the opposition — and they got rid of Hussein. To them, that was the most positive outcome possible. Why stay now? Iraq has served its purpose.


Jay- I agree Re: The Liberal Hawks.

Here’s the thing, though: I do think we have an obligation to help Iraq rebuild, seeing how we invaded their country and whatnot. We owe it to them to continue the funding of reconstruction projects. That these assholes are simply gonna withdraw all funds makes me incredibly angry.


Agreed. It’s beyond disgusting. Here, at last, is something I can honestly say that a Kerry Administration would be doing MUCH differently. There’s probably a lot more, but the motherfucker was still in favor of this clusterfuck, so I can’t give him many props on it.

The trouble is you operate in a world where “shame” and “obligations” and “goodwill” still have currency in politics.

The cognative dissonance that goes on daily within the brain of a American conservative these days must resemble TV snow — and more than ever they’re responding like old Communists when the party line changes.


and more than ever they’re responding like old Communists when the party line changes.

Yep. That’s exactly what it is. Pathetic.


Many aren’t angry because they’re libertarians — Iraq was to become a free market paradise where everything was privatized and corporatized, and if that results in no infrastructure, no social safety net, no social contract whatsoever, if that’s where the chips fall, then oh well.

Invisible hand, and all that.


Nice dialog between Jay and Brad, but, like Brad asked “Why aren’t the war supporters angry too?” I think that question would be answered best by the stoopid war supporters. Trolls, where are you?


I support everything the President does, even if it means the destruction of what’s left of this once great nation.

Huzzah for us!


They aren’t angry because they really and truly don’t care; never have, never will. The bulk of the populous supporting this war consists of poltically disengaged and uninformed people, who don’t know anything much about this conflict beyond fists pumping in the air and yelling USA! USA!

I spent the better part of the 90’s working in the developing world on different contracts (government and NGO) and I’ll tell you, the USAID personel I dealt with gave me a foretaste of how the US was going to handle the Iraqi reconstruction. They alternated between cluessness chirpiness and profound exacerbation over the inability of “these people” to just get things done. I never thought to ask at the time if they’d ever posted their CV’s at the Heritage Foundation.

My solution to this? Get out now, and let other people who are really interested in and good at reconstruction take over.

You may be angry now…I’ve been angry for 4 years.


Paul Bremmer blames the insurgents for the whole mess – he said that if we hadn’t had to spend billions on mercenaries, then Simone Ledeen’s incompetence and the fraud by companies like Battle-Custer wouldn’t have mattered. Or something.


Far too many people, I think, will accept anything Bush does simply because he’s not Bill Clinton.

I no longer believe in a place called Hope, but I’m still kind of holding out for a place called Correctionville.

We might have to settle for a place called Suckerville, though.


My solution to this? Get out now, and let other people who are really interested in and good at reconstruction take over.

Unfortunately, I think we’re in a Catch-22. It would be irresponsible to leave the country a mess, but the country won’t get better as long as we’re there. I have no idea how to solve this.


It’s doable.


blt where aaarrre yooouuu???


Way back (well maybe 3 years ago), I thought “The only solutions GWB ever proposes are military ones, and that what Iraq has become is a humanitarian, not a military, situation. Most of the problems of/in Iraq could best be solved by providing power and water, not guns and training on how to use them. Guns dont win hearts or minds, they just kill them.”
But then I’m a looney leftist pie-in-the-sky liberal, and what I thought back then was clearly delusional. The way it actually worked out is just SO much better.


Get out. Kick Halliburton and Bechtel out and Get. Out.

Let serious people deal with this, and get out.


OK, I’ll bite. I am one of those whack-job conservatives who think that people like my father and brother are actually doing something good when they eliminate terror cells and drug operations that try to kill people.

No, I’m not trying to go around trolling, but there are some things that occur to me, statements that do not appear to be completely thought-out that I would like to comment on. And no, I don’t think that everything that Bush does is golden or that there are not better ways that some things related to the war could have been handled. For instance, I agree with the assertion at the end that it was dumb to put together project ideas without being on-site. Also referring to the end, it was probably dumb to think that the Iraqis would be able to fund the continuation of the completed projects.

However, when have you seen a major construction project done on time and within budget? I’m not in the construction business, so my experience is limited, but I know I’ve never seen it here in the US, where we don’t have people shooting at the contractors.

To people who quote things (like the part about 40% of Iraqis not having clean water in 2004) without looking further, I ask, what percentage of Iraqis had clean water in 2000? Or electricity? Don’t just count the people and households acknowledged by the Iraqi government at the time, make sure to count the political prisoners and the Kurds living in abandoned stadiums because their homes and businesses had been seized by Saddam.

To what level is the US government and military supposed to bring things up to a standard of living that we, as US citizens, would consider acceptable? Are we supposed to just fix the last things that were left when we got there? Are we supposed to make it the country look like a US state, at the time and expense of leaving our soldiers there long enough to protect the contractors doing the work? I assume somewhere in between, but have you thought about where in between? I can’t decide that for you, I’m just raising the question.

Whether the invasion was justified or not (and I’m not getting into that one at all, because I won’t change your minds and y’all won’t change mine), it happened. We can’t change that. Given that, if y’all were running the government, what choices would you make? I see people (not here) asking why the government is spending money in Iraq while people here can’t read, and I see other people asking why we’re not giving more money to rebuilding things in Iraq and therefore leaving projects unfinished. Where would you spend the money? Especially given that contractors aren’t going to go work on water and power systems without the degree of safety (even if it’s not complete security) provided by soldiers? So the aims of bringing our troops home and rebuilding the infrastructure over there are close to mutually exclusive.

Also, to rubberband, no, guns don’t win hearts and minds. However, some of the men and women who carry them do conduct themselves in such a way that they win hearts and minds. Not everyone there hates us, and some of the troops over there have won the hearts and minds of some of the Iraqi people.


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