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April 3, 2006

Reviewing the Corruption and Incompetence of the USG in Iraq

Background: What Republicans Told Us About Government, Business, and War

1. Private for-profit business is always more efficient than the government.

2. It is always more efficient - in time, money, and all resources - for the government to contract out. Because without private contractors, we would have a looming, gigantic, federal workforce demanding pesky things like healthcare, job security, and real pensions.

3. We, the United States, are democratic liberators and will be welcomed with open arms wherever we go.

4. People everywhere have the desires and cultural milieu of upper-middle class Washington suburbs (e.g. Falls Church, VA).

Update: What's Happening in Iraq

1. A no-bid, no-budget contract was awarded to a California construction company, Parsons, to build 142 primary health clinics in Iraq.

2. Post-war USG contracts are no different than other "development" contracts - emphasis is on awarding American companies, regardless of their expertise in the actual location of the work. Sub-contracting is expected; no ceiling is put on how many sub-contractors are allowed. (Every sub-contractor gets a piece of the overhead budget without having to do any work besides hiring someone else to do the work.) USG contracts are awarded with the understanding that everyone, everywhere in the world works like a model American city. No concern is given to language proficiency (isn't the whole world supposed to speak English?) or culture sensitivity (who cares if no women are involved? These backward people don't let their women out of the house...besides, we don't have to deal with women in the US, so why should we have to make any effort to involve them overseas?)

3. Not only does the USG refuse to actually put a hammer to a nail, it refuses to provide any serious oversight to make sure the money they give for-profit companies to hammer the nail is actually used on hammers and nails. Instead, 40-50% of a construction budget can be used for oversight of local workers.

4. Parsons has completed 6 clinics. They were given an extension - they were supposed to be done by December 2005. Now they have through April to attempt to finish 14 more - but they don't necessarily have to finish all 14. Everything will be left in a state of partial completion. If they miraculously finish 20 clinics, that would be 14% of the original contract completed. As it stands, they've completed 4%. But they are not being penalized at all for their poor performance; they can continue their other contracts in Iraq; and they get to keep all the profits they've made on "building" health clinics in Iraq.

5. Forget the security problems in Iraq. By hiring US companies instead of doing the work through the Army Corps of Engineer, the USG wastes billions lining the profits of executives and stock holders in multinational construction companies.

6. Now remember those security problems - the primary cause is this administration's refusal to learn anything from the reconstruction of Bosnia and Kosovo. Why? Because they refuse to take anything seriously that was done under a Democratic president. Apparently, that means that diplomatic relations and post-war reconstruction must be lead by the military. The military that is not trained in diplomacy, but trained in killing. The military which lacks diplomatic language and foreign language skills. The military, which is taught to shoot first - or curse - or dehumanize - to quell any problems with the locals.

7. Remember the genocide of Rwanda? It was preceded by Western development agencies praising the Rwandan government and saying that it was a star example of the goodness of Western aid. All the economic figures pointed up. No one noticed that one ethnic group was profiting from Western aid at the expense of another ethnic group. That doesn't show up in GDP tallies. Military school doesn't teach you that the head of a village might be very respected by his own ethnic group while he tortures and kills minorities. All of these lessons were taught to the world that was listening before one American soldier stepped foot onto Iraqi soil. Unfortunately, no one in this administration listened to those warnings. And that is why there is an ethnic civil war raging in Iraq.

8. Even during a civil war, you can rebuild infrastructure. It is the only way to get the population to stop buying guns and start working together. But if you contract out national services - like electricity production and sewage treatment - in the name of the holy one, free trade capitalism - you will reap what you sow. Public utilities are public for a reason. Add profit margins, create Enron. The energy crisis in Iraq is man-made. Made in America by American companies with American taxpayer money.

9. Until we seriously counter the Republican reasoning given to justify the pillaging of our taxpayer coffers and the ravaging of foreign lands, we will never change any of the outcomes of that reasoning. We must unite with clear ideas - vision that takes us beyond protest marches and back into the seats of power. This country desperately needs re-districting on a national scale. We need a citizens' movement for real change. We need accountability at every level of government and corporation. We need to work with people's movements around the world to take back our fundamental ownership of our communities.

Deep Background* - "U.S. Plan to Build Iraq Clinics Falters: Contractor Will Try to Finish 20 of 142 Sites," by Ellen Knickmeyer in today's WaPo

*aka article that started this post

Posted by cj at April 3, 2006 9:34 PM


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