Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work in Iraq

In almost any third world country conflict, militias have been known to set up roadblocks and illicit checkpoints which are about controlling the population through fear and extorting cash and goods as a sort of illegitimate transport tax, from trucks carrying merchandise. This system operated in Lebanon, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Congo, Afghanistan, both during the Soviet occupation and more recently after the American invasion and, of course, in Iraq. It is frightfully efficient and provides a steady and healthy income to any group controlling a specific district.

In Iraq, it is the insurgency that profits from this practice and does so in numbers befitting the phenomenal financial black hole that Iraq has become. US contractors, including the military, use Iraqi contractors to transport their goods. The idea is that Iraqi contractors are not only less likely to be attacked but, from the US Military’s point of view, are also more dispensable, or at least their workers are, if they are killed. Iraqi contractors also know, that to get their goods say, from Baghdad to a job site in Al Anbar province, they will have to pay a substantial amount to the insurgency to let them pass. One contractor quotes a job, which he would normally bid at $16,000 for filling bags of gravel and transporting them to Ramadi would be invoiced at $120,000 of which as much as $100,000 was paid out to the insurgency.

The Seattle Times quotes one contractor as saying: "Insurgents control the roads - Americans don't control the roads — and everything from Syria and Jordan goes through there."

In light of the fact that current US or Iraqi government run projects total over $353 million, it’s easy to imagine about $10 million of that landing in the hands of the insurgency over the next year or so. Some of that money will be used by the insurgency to purchase weapons, some of it to bribe Syrian border guards to look the other way. But the following also has to be considered: in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, Pentagon officials claim that the USA spends one million dollars for every dollar spent by the insurgency, which boggles the mind somewhat.

Here’s the scenario in a nutshell. In order for Iraq to succeed, the United States is attempting to defeat an insurgency whilst it rebuilds the country’s infrastructure. In rebuilding the infrastructure, American contractors are forced to shell out millions of dollars to the insurgency that the US military is trying to fight. The insurgency repeatedly destroys the infrastructure, a soft target, thus guaranteeing themselves a steady revenue flow. That’s a business plan if ever I saw one.


Anonymous said...

Serious....What was the real cause of the end of the Soviet Union??? They went bankrupt in Afghanistan...As we will in IRAQ.

Todd Dugdale said...

Thanks for this report.
They also undoubtedly use this money to bribe Iraqi police both to look the other way and to provide information on our forces. Suicide bombers are also paid well (or their families, at least, after the "job" is done). They also have cash to help out their sympathizers to maintain their popular support. A cynic would say that the tribal councils in Anbar are joining with us to wipe out the "competition" for the graft.