Monday, December 03, 2007

Corruption Destroying What's Left Of Iraq

You probably are thinking that a little corruption is to be expected in an Arab nation, you also may be a little jaded by Halliburton, KBR, Parsons, Blackwater, and other assorted US corruption, but Iraq has passed what levels may be sustainable. If you think maybe BushCo has really lowered the bar for Iraq's government by putting it at passing a budget, you don't understand the depths of their tolerance. If you'd like a taste for just how tolerant of corruption this Administration is you could re-visit this October post and see that they not only don't want to hear about it, they want to bury it. And from the looks of it, bury anybody who talks.

Nonstop Theft and Bribery Stagger Iraq is how a NYT report describes the situation. Now bearing in mind that Radhi al-Radhi the ex-head of governmental corruption investigation lost 31 staff members to killings, you can understand that folks aren't real hot on talking and being identified but what NYT reports is horrific. Some will talk:

“Everyone is stealing from the state,” said Adel Adel al-Subihawi, a prominent Shiite tribal leader in Sadr City, throwing up his hands in disgust. “It’s a very large meal, and everyone wants to eat.”
He's not kidding around, police applicants pay from $400 to $800 to have their applications taken and approved, one stated that not one of his class of 850 did not pay a bribe and that his commanders collect the salaries of recruits who quit. So you commit a crime to become a policeman. Everyone is stealing? Estimates run to $18 billion in Iraqi government money that has been lost to corruption since 2004, some American officials estimate that a third of what they spend on Iraqi contracts or grants winds up stolen or unaccounted for.

Cash is also often what leads to promotions — with the help of a fake college degree, purchased for about $40 — and theft is no less common. One government worker, who goes by the name Abu Muhammad, said a senior administrator at the ministry where he worked recently sold off computers, laser printers, office furniture and other supplies that appeared to have been paid for with American aid. The official was never caught or prosecuted, he said.
It is not just a matter of getting rich, it involves schemes as simple as hand washing cars for survival money. Abbas Wadi Kadhim, 42, takes water from a broken water pipe to earn $4 per car - the water is "stolen" and he pays no rent on the abandoned government building he uses to house his operation. He is ashamed to violate the Koran's prohibition on corruption but avoids more forbidden acts which rescues some of his pride.

Maybe the mess would be tolerable in a war torn chaotic nation, Iraq rates as the 3rd most corrupt in the world, if there seemed to be some form of pushback by anyone, there isn't. Consider the government's stance on corruption investigations:

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who runs the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, said Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki actually undercut anticorruption efforts this year by requiring that investigators get permission from his office before pursuing ministers or former ministers on corruption charges.

Mr. Maliki has also not rescinded a law, opposed by the Americans, that lets ministers exempt their employees from investigation. “Those two legal positions within the fledgling Iraqi government are incompatible with democracy,” Mr. Bowen said in an interview. “My concerns about the corruption problem have risen.”
Does anyone think that maybe this might rank right up there with passing a budget with BushCo? Well, in a reasonable world maybe, but it sounds an awful lot like the Administration's policy with our own Inspector Generals. In fact, in the US it is starting to look as though if it isn't nailed down it's for sale or stolen. You could almost make a case that we blew up a country so favored contractors could make a buck - well, billions or so. Stop and consider that Halliburton was seriously looking at bankruptcy before Cheney et al got the reins of power and others were just ordinarily profitable operations, now it sure is a different picture.

The Surge that was supposed to give Iraqis a breathing space to get their act together seems to have done that,
The collective filching undermines Iraq’s ability to provide essential services, a key to sustaining recent security gains, according to American military commanders. It also sows a corrosive distrust of democracy and hinders reconciliation as entrenched groups in the Shiite-led government resist reforms that would cut into reliable cash flows.
So who is it that is supposed to have an incentive to get this war over with? The war profiteers in Washington or maybe the Iraqis who gain to the tune of billions would want to cut the spigot off? Maybe the right who insist that it's all about terrorism could take a look at who benefits and wonder if the blood and treasure really needs to be spent for this cause - theft.


Thom said...

The American people have every incentive to end the occupation, but too many are AWOL. Some are actually saying the surge "worked."

US troop losses had gone from an average of 2 a day to 3 a day and now down to a merciful single loss a day. This appears to be acceptable to enough Americans that even the Democrats are willing to fund another year of war.

Another 360 dead Americans at a cost of $50 billion by December, 2008. That's the plan passed by Pelosi.

Chuck Butcher said...

We seem to be creatures of the moment, the fact that we're at 2005 levels doesn't sink in. Keep talking about it is what can be done.