Now, here's a shock: the pirates in Iraq are diverting funds
approved for reconstruction in order to pay mercenaries; and also for some intriguingly designated "other uses". Well, I wonder what those could be.
Apparently, "after Congress approved funding two years ago, oil, electricity, water and sanitation facilities were found to be more degraded than expected." It happens. You get the builders in, sign a cheque; they half demolish your house and then they find the job is bigger than they quoted for. It's just life. In the case of Iraq, of course, the house was someone else's and we demolished it ourselves; but it would be unduly harsh to expect the occupation forces to have any real idea of the damage they'd inflicted. It hardly seems fair to expect professional soldiers to know just where and how every itty-bitty little smart bomb landed.
However, some are not so tolerant as the master race of said master race's human failings: "Amid the chaos and corruption of the post-Saddam administration, insurgents began to target the infrastructure and anyone working for the US or the Iraqi government." That "post-Saddam administration" is rather fine; if one had sufficient memory-control and kept one's eyes tight shut, one might almost prevent the words "American-run" or "L. Paul Bremer" from sneaking across the consciousness.
Nevertheless, a report by the Government Accountability Office blames "attacks, threats and intimidation against project contractors and subcontractors" for the occupation's inability to reconstruct Iraq's water, electricity and sanitation in accordance with the free market and general profitability. Of the water projects which have been completed and handed over to the Iraqi authorities, a quarter no longer work "because of "looting, unreliable electricity or inadequate Iraqi staff and supplies".
There are about twenty thousand "foreign security contractors" in Iraq. The regular occupation forces don't count as "foreign security contractors", presumably because they (a) are not foreign (the Iraqis are foreign, especially when they blow us up); and, (b) by virtue of provoking the insurgency in the first place, are not making a very impressive contribution to security. Assuming the looting mentioned by the Government Accountability Office is by the insurgents and not the occupation, and assuming all the trained technicians are being intimidated away by the Forces of Evil, one wonders what exactly the security forces are doing to merit the diversion of funds.
The "foreign security contractors" (mercenaries, in Oldspeak) are somewhat better paid than the average grunt; some of them are getting more than a thousand dollars a day. I am sure they are earning every penny. It is no doubt thanks to this elite that "the health ministry says the overall rate of disease among children under five has dropped" despite "a surge in cases of dehydration and diarrhoea among children and the elderly". It looks as if the weaklings are finally starting to die off quickly enough to show up as an improvement in the sickness statistics.
Also, "parts of Baghdad are noticeably sprucer; and thousands of schools have been built or rehabilitated", though one wonders if anyone dares to teach in them, and if so, where they get their textbooks. "Electricity generation has recently climbed above pre-war levels" - above, that is to say, the levels when the notorious sanctions were still in force. And all this a mere twenty-eight months after Mission Accomplished. Yet "crude oil production is around 2.2m barrels a day, still below its pre-war peaks." Have they no
idea what the price of petrol is nowadays? Ingratitude, thy name is Iraq.