Monday, April 03, 2006

Broken contracts

My conservative friend Bill Crawford now has a regular gig writing a weekly column for National Review Online that purports to show all the good things happening in Iraq that the “mainstream media” has allegedly failed to report on.
I think that is wonderful for Bill and I offer him my hearty congratulations.

But what I don’t understand is why Bill and all the other ardent war supporters aren’t pulling their hair out over stories like this one.

BAGHDAD -- A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq is running out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.

Is that the best we can do!?! Two years and $200 million and they can only complete 20 out of 142 health clinics as promised?
And apparently the Bush administration is fine with it. We are going to pay the contractor, Parsons Inc., the full amount and not hold them accountable for the unfinished work. Furthermore, we apparently have no plans to expend any more funds to have the work completed. Officials in Iraq are just hoping some foreign donors will step in and help fill the gaps.

I said a while back that Bush does not deserve the credit he has been given for rebuilding Iraq because it is clear that he never intended to commit the kind of financial resources necessary to do the job. Bush and Co. were half expecting the Iraq invasion to go something like the invasion of Grenada, a painless exercize meant only to boost Republican electoral prospects for the upcoming mid-term elections. What they got was an extended Vietnam-like quagmire that has engulfed all of our military resources and threatens to drag on for countless years to come.

Kevin Drum at Political Animal calls the war supporters’ bluff today, demanding to know specifically what they are willing to do to “win” this war.

So: what's the plan, hawks? "Whatever it takes" is just cheap talk. Are you suggesting higher taxes to fund a dramatic increase in military end strength? A draft? A ground invasion of Iran? A permanent military occupation of the entire Middle East?

Because that's probably what it would take. Right now, nearly a thousand Iraqis are dying every month, the per capita equivalent of about 100,000 deaths per year if this were taking place in the United States. And keep in mind that this is the result of a mere low level civil war, not the real thing. What happens when full scale civil war breaks out and the U.S. military is stuck in the middle?

What's the plan then?

No, Kevin, of course they would never raise taxes. Republicans don’t raise taxes, they just raise the debt limit.

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