Fraud, corruption, cronyism. Welcome to the occupation.
From Paul Krugman:
Sure enough, the administration was unprepared for predictable security problems in Iraq, but moved quickly â€” in violation of international law â€” to impose its economic vision. Last month Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator of Iraq, told the BBC that he was sacked in part because he wanted to hold quick elections. His superiors wanted to privatize Iraqi industries first â€” as part of a plan that, according to Mr. Garner, was drawn up in late 2001.
Meanwhile, the administration handed out contracts without competitive bidding or even minimal oversight. It also systematically blocked proposals to have Congressional auditors oversee spending, or to impose severe penalties for fraud.
Cronyism and corruption are major factors in Iraq’s downward spiral. This week the public radio program “Marketplace” is running a series titled “The Spoils of War,” which documents a level of corruption in Iraq worse than even harsh critics had suspected. The waste of money, though it may run into the billions, is arguably the least of it â€” though military expenses are now $4.7 billion a month. The administration, true to form, is trying to hide the need for more money until after the election; Mr. Cordesman predicts that Iraq will need “in excess of $50-70 billion a year for probably two fiscal years.”
More important, the “Marketplace” report confirms what is being widely reported: that the common view in Iraq is that members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council are using their positions to enrich themselves, and that U.S. companies are doing the same. President Bush’s idealistic language may be persuasive to Americans, but many Iraqis see U.S. forces as there to back a corrupt regime, not democracy.
Is anyone surprised?