To the victor, the spoils

Ed Harriman’s article in the London Review of Books is a thorough review of financial mis-management by the coalition forces in Iraq.  (For those who do not want to read the full article,  The Guardian carried an edited version.)

By 28 June last year, when Bremer left Baghdad two days early to avoid possible attack on the way to the airport, his CPA had spent up to $20 billion of Iraqi money, compared to $300 million of US funds. …

The auditors have so far referred more than a hundred contracts, involving billions of dollars paid to American personnel and corporations, for investigation and possible criminal prosecution. They have also discovered that $8.8 billion that passed through the new Iraqi government ministries in Baghdad while Bremer was in charge is unaccounted for, with little prospect of finding out where it went. A further $3.4 billion earmarked by Congress for Iraqi development has since been siphoned off to finance ‘security’. …

The auditors found that the CPA hadn’t kept accounts for the hundreds of millions of dollars of cash in its vault, had awarded contracts worth billions of dollars to American firms without tender, and had no idea what was happening to the money from the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) which was being spent by the interim Iraqi government ministries. …

Both Saddam and the US profited handsomely during his reign. He controlled Iraq’s wealth while most of Iraq’s oil went to Californian refineries to provide cheap petrol for American voters. US corporations, like those who enjoyed Saddam’s favour, grew rich. Today the system is much the same: the oil goes to California, and the new Iraqi government spends the country’s money with impunity.

This is a staggering indictment of the US, UK and other coalition governments.  If even some of this report is true, it should be a resigning matter for the politicians and senior officials responsible.

The money that is missing or unaccounted for dwarfs the alleged impropriety at the United Nations, for which members of US Congress have been baying for blood.

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