Officials are conceding that large amounts of the $53 billion the United States has spent on “relief and reconstruction” in Iraq since the 2003 invasion may ultimately go to waste.
The issues are myriad, but at the center are twin problems, that the American projects are often too large and complex for the Iraqi government to maintain and will be too expensive for them to operate.
There was the Nasiriyah water treatment plant, a $270 million American project which is limping along well short of capacity because the on-the-job training given to the Iraqi workers was simply insufficient to enable its operation.
And a large US-built hospital was handed over to the Iraqi government and immediately shuttered because the Iraqis couldn’t even supply it with electricity, let along a staff and equipment.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is talking about a $400 billion reconstruction scheme for the nation, but before President Obama gets out his checkbook he should probably note that Iraq’s Minister of Planning, Ali Ghalib Baban, says that the $53 billion already spent had no discernable impact.
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