Sunday, November 12, 2006

World: Billions consigned to the spiral of hate

I heard a disturbing documentary on BBC radio a few days ago.

In a nutshell, when the US first set up their provisional administration in Iraq, they poured billions - literally billions - of dollars into Baghdad. There were two sources: American money for reconstruction; and Iraq's own money - again billions - from oil sales. They distributed it absolutely freely, to Iraqis and to US construction contractors. Mostly without sufficient checks on the distribution, and most - nearly all - wasted.

Worse than wasted. The windfalls to American contractors - frequently without tenders - pales into insignificance. Much of it would have ended up in the hands of "insurgents" - and to fuel the civil war.

Bush sent over administrators pronto, upon the fall of Baghdad. But at the top, those he sent fulfilled two criteria: he knew them - or of them - and they were willing and able to go. That doesn't speak to the competence of those at the top in Iraq.

In fact, the financial administrator was an ex-submarine commander who in interview displayed absolutely blithe disregard to what happened to the Iraqi money in particular. "it doesn't matter. It was their money." Well, it was the people's money, which does not equate at all to it being the recipients' money.

Successive US governments have successively wasted their billions on military contractors. But never before have they channelled it so directly to the violence of others. And the result is an ongoing litany of carnage, which brutalises the whole world as news of the violence continues to reverberate.

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