Empty Promises

Fabulous. Remember the donor conference held in 2003 that garnered all the promises of international aid?

How much financial aid for Iraq was pledged at the October 23-24 Madrid donor conference?

About $33 billion in grants and loans, almost two-thirds of it from the United States. The widely used estimate of Iraq’s reconstruction needs is about $55 billion over several years. Still, the Bush administration was pleased with outcome of the conference, because non-U.S. pledges totaled more than many U.S. policymakers had expected.

Not surprisingly, some countries appear to be holding back:

The U.S.-led effort to rebuild Iraq’s devastated infrastructure is falling short because of a lack of financial support from other countries, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers said.

“There’s lots of good news, and good things are happening,” Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the Corps’s chief of engineers, told The Hill, “but on the international effort, there’s simply not enough to get the Iraqis to where they need to be.”

Strock, whose agency acts as a middleman between the Agency for International Development (AID) and U.S. contractors and oversees actual construction, said about 2,500 projects valued at $5.8 billion have been started as of June, with 3,000 or so others on the drawing boards…

“What happened was that we are standing by our commitment but we have not seen the donor nations stand by theirs. The Iraqis are generating some income, primarily from oil, but right now we are the only show in town. We’re not going to get to where we need, given the current level of investment.”

Strock’s downbeat assessment comes as the new U.S. envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad, told reporters in Washington that he wants to give Iraqis “greater control and responsibility” over the reconstruction effort.

However, the reconstruction efforts, which to date have been bogged down by the violence and bloodshed, appear to be continuing forward, albeit slowly:

One of the biggest problems is the poor condition of the infrastructure, Strock explained.

“First, there was a lot of damage caused by sabotage and looting, but the real problem was that just about every area of the infrastructure suffered from 35 years of neglect by Saddam. We went in with the idea of repairing the infrastructure, but when we got in, we found that it simply was not going to be enough.”

Strock pointed to the oil infrastructure as “the area where we’ve made the most progress. We’re up to the point where we are producing about 2 million barrels a day and we’re working toward 3 million.” Slightly more than half of the oil is exported, he said.

“The bottom line is, I think we’ve turned the corner,” he said. “I really do.”

Read the whole thing.






25 replies
  1. 1
    p.lukasiak says:

    given that the US gave away $8.8 BILLION DOLLARS of money that belonged to the Iraqi people with no accountability whatsoever, its not hard to understand why other nations would be reluctant to throw their own money into the pot…

    (The dollar amounts involved in the Oil For Food scandal pale in comparison to the wholesale giveaway of hard currency that Bremer and his buddies simply handed out without even getting a receipt…..even worse, this was money entrusted by the United Nations to the UN for use for the benefit of the Iraqi people; the “Oil For Food” scandal didn’t deny the Iraqi people a cent…)

  2. 2
    Stormy70 says:

    Some of the donor nations didn’t fulfill their Tsunami pledge obligations, either.

  3. 3
    Jimmy Jazz says:

    Strock pointed to the oil infrastructure as “the area where we’ve made the most progress.

    I’m glad they have their priorities in order.

  4. 4
    Steve says:

    Everything I’ve read suggests the fundamental issue is that security must come before infrastructure. As I recall, even when it comes to our own money, we’ve reallocated funds from infrastructure to security because it simply wasn’t safe to begin the infrastructure projects. Maybe I have a misunderstanding, or maybe things have changed and we’re ready to start those aqueducts now.

    I think Americans are a generous people – maybe we’re better than those other deadbeats. But you know, when we send a bunch of money to help tsunami victims or what have you, it’s just a number we add onto the deficit, an amount that we’re going to have to tax our kids and grandkids to pay for down the road. I wonder if it doesn’t make it easier for us to be generous considering we’re being generous with someone else’s money.

  5. 5
    Sojourner says:

    But you know, when we send a bunch of money to help tsunami victims or what have you, it’s just a number we add onto the deficit, an amount that we’re going to have to tax our kids and grandkids to pay for down the road. I wonder if it doesn’t make it easier for us to be generous considering we’re being generous with someone else’s money.

    This argument doesn’t hold water given that the major (by far) cause of the deficit is tax cuts for the wealthy. When the top few percent are getting huge tax cuts (while increasing the deficit), it’s tough to claim poverty when it comes to charity.

  6. 6
    RanDomino says:

    35 years of neglect by Saddam? I suspect that our 14 years of bombing them might have something to do with it…

  7. 7
    DougJ says:

    Freedom is on the march. The libruls can whine all they want to about “quagmire” but Iraq is a remarkable success story. No one woud have predicted in 2002 that after only three years of occupation, the Iraqis would have a new government, a thriving economy, and the beginnings of a new constitution. Bush has done more to advance the cause of freedom and peace than all the other presidents in the US since WW II put together.

    Freedom is truly on the march.

  8. 8
    SeesThroughIt says:

    Wait, so is freedom on the march?

  9. 9
    Sojourner says:

    Wait, so is freedom on the march?

    Let’s just hope it’s marching in the right direction.

  10. 10
    demimondian says:

    Let’s just hope [freedom is] marching in the right direction.

    If we just turned a corner, through, doesn’t that mean it’s marching in a new dimension?

  11. 11
    Grotesqueticle says:

    the real problem was that just about every area of the infrastructure suffered from 35 years of neglect by Saddam.”

    Contrast that with our Glorius infrastructure which is completley overhauled about every 35 years….oh, wait.

    Yeah, it was all Saddams fault that we are spending so much money rebuilding the country. Damn him. Damn him and our less than realistic expectations.

  12. 12
    Steve says:

    Sojourner, I wasn’t saying that we shouldn’t give money for disaster relief and the like. I was saying that people shouldn’t pat themselves on the back because of America’s generosity when that generosity consists of passing on a debt to future generations.

    People who went into their own pockets, who gave money for tsunami relief, those are generous people. But whether our government gave $1 billion or $10 billion or $100 billion doesn’t make us a “generous” nation. That money doesn’t involve any sacrifice on our parts, the sacrifice is borne by the unborn.

  13. 13
    SamAm says:

    The idea that Iraqi reconstruction is being stalled by a general lack of money being thrown around, and a specific lack of foreign money being thrown around, is simply ridiculous. It’s absolute dishonest bullshit of the worst sort, after all the money we’ve let Iraqis walk off with, after all the money we’ve let US contractors walk off with, after claims to the US public that the thing would cost only $80 billion, after they fired Larry Lindsey for saying otherwise, after the Congress has been as complient as possible in forking over what the White House wants. And, oh yeah, after the Bush administration’s willful idiocy as to the number of American troops needed to secure the country. Can’t forget the current wishful BS about the Iraqis’ capabilities in that regard either.

    Forgive me for not having a lot of confidence in the venture at that point, but if General Strock really believes that then he is delusional at best. If he’s just passing the buck (so to speak) to the “dern furriners” then he’s just as bad as this country’s political leadership. Why would any nation throw good money after bad, especially in the context of such a horrible security environment? Why would any nation look at our administration in Iraq and consider it anything other than bad?

  14. 14
    Sojourner says:

    I was saying that people shouldn’t pat themselves on the back because of America’s generosity when that generosity consists of passing on a debt to future generations.

    But why then is it okay to give tax cuts to the wealthy (who need it a whole lot less than the recipients of charity) which will be passed on to future generations?

  15. 15
    Doug says:

    Reconstruction will only cost $1.7 billion, guaranteed. The Bush admin promised to just pack up and leave once that limit was reached:

    Nightline: Project Iraq
    April 23, 2003 Wednesday
    Source: ABC News

    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) Our guest tonight is ANDREW NATSIOS, administrator of the Agency for International Development, the lead agency that is responsible for rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq.
    . . .
    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) Well, it’s a, I think you’ll agree, this is a much bigger project than any that’s been talked about. Indeed, I understand that more money is expected to be spent on this than was spent on the entire Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.

    ANDREW NATSIOS
    No, no. This doesn’t even compare remotely with the size of the Marshall Plan.

    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) The Marshall Plan was $97 billion.

    ANDREW NATSIOS
    This is 1.7 billion.

    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you’re not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

    ANDREW NATSIOS
    Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it’s up and running and there’s a new government that’s been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They’re going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.

    . . .
    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) And we’re back once again with ANDREW NATSIOS, administrator for the Agency for International Development. I want to be sure that I understood you correctly. You’re saying the, the top cost for the US taxpayer will be $1.7 billion. No more than that?

    ANDREW NATSIOS
    For the reconstruction. And then there’s 700 million in the supplemental budget for humanitarian relief, which we don’t competitively bid ’cause it’s charities that get that money.

    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) I understand. But as far as reconstruction goes, the American taxpayer will not be hit for more than $1.7 billion no matter how long the process takes?

    ANDREW NATSIOS
    That is our plan and that is our intention. And these figures, outlandish figures I’ve seen, I have to say, there’s a little bit of hoopla involved in this.

    . . .
    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) If it’s cost plus, in other words, if they come back to you in another six months or in another year and say, gee, you know, we gave you best estimate we could but here’s what it ended up costing and it ended up costing double what we said it was gonna cost.

    ANDREW NATSIOS
    Oh, no, no, we have, that’s the amount of money we have to spend. We’re gonna do less if it costs more than that, because we have an appropriation, we’re gonna go within the limits of the appropriation.

    TED KOPPEL
    (Off Camera) But what you are saying is, maybe, maybe fewer tasks will be accomplished. The amount of money, however, is gonna be the same?

    ANDREW NATSIOS
    That’s correct. 1.7 billion is the limit on reconstruction for Iraq. It’s a large amount of money but, compared to other emergencies around the world. But in terms of the amount of money needed to reconstruct the country, it’s a relatively small amount.

  16. 16
    Ckrisz says:

    Apropos regarding government generosity:

    Link Link

    Rebuilding of Iraq:

    “The United States, Iraq and international donors have committed more than $60 billion to run Iraq and revive its damaged infrastructure. But security costs are eating away a substantial share of that total, up to 36 percent on some projects, the Government Accountability Office reported yesterday. The higher security costs are causing reconstruction authorities to scale back efforts in some areas and abandon projects in others.

    For instance, in March, the U.S. Agency for International Development canceled two electric power generation programs to provide $15 million in additional security elsewhere. On another project to rehabilitate electric substations, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that securing 14 of the 23 facilities would be too expensive and limited the entire project to nine stations. And in February, USAID added $33 million to cover higher security costs on one project, which left it short of money to pay for construction oversight, quality assurance and administrative costs.

    Despite $5.7 billion committed to restoring electricity service in Iraq, power generation was still at lower levels as of May than it had been before the U.S. invasion in 2003. In one case, the GAO reported, the United States led an overhaul of an Iraqi power plant but then did not adequately train the Iraqis how to operate it. A widespread power outage resulted.

    Crude oil production has also dropped in the past two years, even with more than $5 billion in U.S. and Iraqi funds available for rebuilding. Oil export revenue is needed to fund more than 90 percent of the nascent Iraqi government’s 2005 budget, the State Department has said.

    The government does not know how much it spends on private security contractors in total, the GAO said. But it is more than expected. “Contractor officials acknowledge that the cost of private security services and security-related equipment, such as armored vehicles, has exceeded what they originally envisioned,” the GAO said.

    The Pentagon estimates there are 60 private security firms with as many as 25,000 employees in Iraq. Some elite personnel make $33,000 a month. But there are no industry standards, and soldiers are not taught in advance how to interact with the armed contractors, according to the GAO.

    In a separate report yesterday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported that more money than necessary may be going into the pockets of government contractors involved in the rebuilding process.

    A review by auditors of 18 reconstruction contracts found that the formula used for doling out special monetary awards, which are above and beyond basic fees, tended to skew them too high.

    For instance, the inspector general’s office found that a contractor that received an evaluation of “average” performance won award fees of $1.67 million but could have been given just $309,436 under another widely accepted awards system. In a second case, a contractor won no award fees but ended up being paid $439,145 after it appealed because it had not received feedback on its work from the government.”

  17. 17
    Steve says:

    But why then is it okay to give tax cuts to the wealthy (who need it a whole lot less than the recipients of charity) which will be passed on to future generations?

    Find the comment where I said I support tax cuts for the wealthy, and I will defend it, I guess.

    Here’s a tip, though, and the reason why I politely suggested you were barking up the wrong tree: Most people who understand that unaffordable tax cuts equate to raising taxes on our kids and grandkids are not in favor of unaffordable tax cuts.

  18. 18
    Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    I think I should note that the donation figure was bogus from the get-go, as it included, IIRC, cancellation of Saddam-era debts that were virtually uncollectable in any event. But back in those days, we skeptics were in the wilderness. Everyone knew that many other countries would be clamoring to participate in the reconstruction, so many that we could spurn help from France or other Europeans who didn’t support the invasion. Remember, they were going to need a rubber-stamp with “George” for all the babies that were going to be named after President Quagmire. Since then we’ve moved the goalposts about 99 yards closer and we still haven’t scored.

  19. 19
    Mike S says:

    “The bottom line is, I think we’ve turned the corner,” he said. “I really do.”

    I can’t remember where, but I’m sure I’ve heard that phrase before. I know it was quite a while back, maybe a few decades. Anybody else find it familliar?

  20. 20
    Aaron says:

    I submit that you could not re-build, repair, renovate anybody’s infrastructure in just 3 years.

    When did the Marshall Fund start paying off real dividends?

    the 1960’s.

  21. 21
    Stormy70 says:

    When did the Marshall Fund start paying off real dividends?

    Plus, we are startng to withdraw our troops from Germany and closing some of our bases. What a quagmire! (sarcasm)

  22. 22
    Sojourner says:

    Plus, we are startng to withdraw our troops from Germany and closing some of our bases. What a quagmire! (sarcasm)

    Germany was a democracy before WWII. Not at all the same thing as trying to create a democracy in a country that has no experience with it. Also, Germany did not have the religious issues that Iraq does.

  23. 23
    Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    When did the Marshall Fund start paying off real dividends? the 1960’s.

    Rubbish. The Marshall Plan began paying off almost immediately, in that the improvement in standards of living diminished the popularity of the Western European Communist parties. Sure, this improvement was gradual, but it was visible long before the 1960s.

  24. 24
    Stormy70 says:

    Also, Germany did not have the religious issues that Iraq does.

    Tell that to the Jews.

  25. 25
    Sojourner says:

    Tell that to the Jews.

    Point very well taken. I was sloppy with my language.

    What I meant to say was that Germany did not have the same pressures to become a religious state as is the case with Iraq.

    My sincere apologies to anyone who was offended by my comment.

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