Thursday, October 07, 2004

The U.S. needs to give Iraqis greater responsibility for more than just security.

Why you're right:

1. Training Iraqi troops has been the focus of the U.S. transfer of power to the Iraqis. Most of the focus by both the administration and the media has been on the security situation in Iraq. Most recently, NATO admitted that its program to help train the Iraqi army will probably not begin until next year. Less coverage has looked at the situation of jobs and reconstruction. (MSNBC, International Herald Tribune)

2. U.S. contractors are profiting at the expense of the Iraqi people. Only $0.27 of every dollar is actually going toward reconstruction projects in Iraq. Funding for “public buildings and other reconstruction” has been allocated $27 million – the smallest allocation of any project category – and only $8 million has been disbursed. $0.15 of every dollar goes to “corruption, fraud, and mismanagement,” mostly to U.S. and British contractors, who have received 85% of the value of overall contracts. (Iraqi firms have received only 2%.) Therefore, while corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel are profiting from the war, little money is actually going to the Iraqi people. (CSIS, Brookings, CPI, Washington Post)

3. Iraqis need more than just the “messy” jobs. 30-40% of Iraqis are unemployed, a figure that has been relatively static since December 2003. Too much money is going toward large U.S. corporations, which have been fraught with waste and mismanagement, and not enough toward small, decentralized projects run by Iraqis, which would decrease unemployment levels. The majority of the jobs going to Iraqis have been messy work, such as digging ditches, cleaning canals, and picking up after the war. (Brookings, Washington Post)

Why they're wrong:

Iraqis need security, but they also need to be working. Without economic stability and employment, Iraqis will continue to resent the United States. Although short-term and economic reconstruction programs will be receiving another roughly $660 million, the rest of the re-allocated $3.46 billion will go toward security measures. The U.S. must make giving Iraqis jobs and economic stability a priority, and better oversee how government funds are spent by corporations. (Washington Post)