Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fold up your show

Fouad Ajami's Iraq 10-year retrospective in the Wall Street Journal --

Two weeks ago, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, issued his final report, called "Learning from Iraq." The report was methodical and detailed, interspersed with the testimonies of American and Iraqi officials. One testimony, by an Iraqi technocrat, the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, offered a compelling image: "With all the money the U.S. has spent, you can go into any city in Iraq and you can't find one building or project built by the U.S. government. You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad or other cities, but you can't point a finger at a single project that was built and completed by the United States." It was no fault of the soldiers who fought this war, or of the leaders who launched it, that their successors lacked the patience to stick around Iraq and safekeep what had been gained at an incalculable cost in blood and treasure.

The full context for that quote from Adnan al-Asadi (page 14)--

The Minister cited three examples of project failure, including two buildings he tracked as acting minister: the Baghdad Police Academy and an oice building constructed in the International Zone for processing weapons licenses. The roof at the processing facility leaked when it rained, requiring another contractor to install a new roof, doubling the structure’s cost. At the police academy, raw sewage leaked through ceilings, requiring replacement of all pipes and ceilings. SIGIR’s inspection of the Baghdad Police Academy substantiates Minister al-Asadi’s complaint. In the third example, the Minister highlighted a shortfall that directly affected his work: a contract to provide the MOI with computer servers and software. He was told by U.S. officials that the already-paid-for materials were sitting at the U.S. Embassy, even though the project was ostensibly complete. The greatest example of poor U.S.-Iraqi coordination was the development of the multibillion-dollar Police Development Program in 2011, which carried overhead costs of around 80%. Minister alAsadi publicly decried the program, declaring that Iraq did not need it. After spending over a billion dollars and wasting about $200 million, the United States downsized the program by 90% to it GOI desires.

It's quite a challenge to read that list of complaints and figure out exactly what it has to do with Barack Obama deciding he wanted no further part of George Bush's war in Iraq.