As the US gradually withdraws troops from Iraq, an AP story reports that billions have been wasted on unfinished and abandoned projects.
A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children’s hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets.As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds has been wasted on these projects — more than 10 percent of the $53.7 billion the US has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.
While this news is more fodder for opponents of the war, the real costs of the invasion are in the mass of destroyed infrastructure and the diversion of funds that might have been spent on more humanitarian needs. Of course the real cost of any war, this one included, comes with the thousands of soldiers, insurgents, and civilians who have lost their lives, and the families who will miss them.
A few projects are mentioned that have been finished successfully.
There are success stories. Hundreds of police stations, border forts and government buildings have been built, Iraqi security forces have improved after years of training, and a deepwater port at the southern oil hub of Umm Qasr has been restored.
Police, other security, and a deep water port–sounds like good support for my long-held belief that the war was, from day one, all about exploiting Iraq’s oil reserves. Security and transport must be there for oil to get out.