History on US reconstruction in Iraq reveals blunders galore: NYT

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Baghdad (Iraq), Dec.14 (ANI): An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country.

According to the New York Times, by the time a sovereign Iraqi government took over from the Americans in June 2004, a situation had emerged that was marked by a 100 billion dollar failure caused by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.

The paper is pessimistic about whether the rebuilding effort will ever succeed, even in a less violent setting.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends.

The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

By mid-2008, 117 billion dollars had been spent on the reconstruction of Iraq, including some 50 billion dollars in United States taxpayer money.

The history contains a catalog of revelations that show the chaotic and often poisonous atmosphere prevailing in the reconstruction effort.

According to the NYT, money for many of the local construction projects still under way is divided up by a spoils system controlled by neighborhood politicians and tribal chiefs.

The United States could soon have reason to consult this cautionary tale of deception, waste and poor planning, as troop levels and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are likely to be stepped up under the new administration.

The incoming Obama administration's rebuilding experts are expected to focus on smaller-scale projects and emphasize political and economic reform.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the history concludes, "the government as a whole has never developed a legislatively sanctioned doctrine or framework for planning, preparing and executing contingency operations in which diplomacy, development and military action all figure."

The manuscript is based on approximately 500 new interviews, as well as more than 600 audits, inspections and investigations. (ANI)

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