As U.S. Rebuilds, Iraq Won’t Act on Finished Work
Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.
The United States often promotes the number of rebuilding projects, like power plants and hospitals, that have been completed in Iraq, citing them as signs of progress in a nation otherwise fraught with violence and political stalemate. But closer examination by the inspector general’s office, headed by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., has found that a number of individual projects are crumbling, abandoned or otherwise inoperative only months after the United States declared that they had been successfully completed.
“To build something and not have these issues resolved from top to bottom is unfathomable,” said William L. Nash, a retired general who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on Middle East reconstruction. “The management of the reconstruction program for Iraq has been a near-total disaster from the beginning.”