Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hard to rebuild a country with an insurgency going on...

This article in the NY Times gave me more hope than its headline led me to believe. Note the following:

(snip)

"Some 1,887 of 2,784 rebuilding projects have been completed, by the American government's own count, and progress has been made in coming up with estimates for how much it will cost to complete the remaining work. Those estimates are needed to determine how many of the projects will have to be cut.

"The projects include water treatment plants, oil pump stations, electricity generators and power lines, police stations, border posts, schools, clinics, roads and post offices. Aside from the security bills, rising materials costs, delays and repeated changes in the priorities in rebuilding have contributed to the financial challenges.

"'I think that the report confirms what we have been saying for some time - that we continue to make progress in rebuilding Iraq,' said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman.

"Regarding the shortcomings detailed by the report on the ability of the United States government to gauge that progress, Colonel Venable said, 'There's a war going on, so not everything can be known, but there's certainly a desire to discover' more complete information.

"A spokeswoman for the State Department, which now largely oversees the rebuilding effort (says), 'We welcome and value the independent oversight.' She spoke under department ground rules that require anonymity. 'Their objective findings have helped improve transparency, accountability and efficiency as we work with the Iraqi people to establish an independent, stable and prosperous Iraq,' she said.

"The five electrical substations examined by the inspector general's office, which is led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., were built in southern Iraq at a cost of $28.8 million. "The completed substations were found to be well planned, well designed and well constructed," the report says. Unfortunately, the system for distributing power from the completed substations was largely nonexistent.

"'No date for installing the distribution system was given,'" the report says.

"Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who travels extensively in Iraq, said problems like that illustrated why the official American government statistics on competed projects could seldom be taken at face value.

"'All too often,' Mr. Rubin said of the numbers, 'the goal in the bureaucracy is to cover their own backside rather than to actually make sure the money does good.'"

(end snip)

Note that fellow Rubin is from the pro-Iraq War II American Enterprise Institute. He strikes me as unduly snarky here. We can't expect any of these projects to succeed much in the face of the insurgency, yet they have had some success. The article notes, however, that mismanagement and the high death and wounded claims of contractors, American and otherwise, causes much of the Iraq rebuilding money to be taken away for military and death and hospital payments. See also, this sad article from the LA Times about US priorities in health care being scaled back.

The overriding fact remains that too many Iraqis in central and southeastern Iraq want us out and are too often passively supporting the insurgents. And as I've said, that's where the (non-Kurd) Sunnis live--and these were the people most oriented toward the West and the US. Why we want to strengthen Shi'ite fundamentalism has always eluded me when we should have had Al Queda as our main priority ("he" said for the um-teenth time...).

I still say...Get out now. I cannot justify as a citizen why someone's loved one has to die for a so-called "continuing" cause that was based upon misleading statements about the urgency of the threat and poor post-war planning (Um, "he" says that alot too!).

(Edited)

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