The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story the other day about a dispute between the Iraqi government and a Texas company hired to build an electric utility plant south of Baghdad. The plant is currently shuttered and unused with gleaming new equipment just collecting dust.
The Texas company, Southeast Texas Industrial Services Inc., ran into lots of problems trying to fulfill the $283 million contract beginning with security issues. The construction site was the target of multiple insurgent attacks and the Iraqi government failed to provide effective security. In addition, the Iraqi government was constantly behind in making payments for the project almost from the beginning. Finally, when the Texas company was forced to spend millions providing their own private security in order to get the work done they were accused of cheating when they tried to pass those costs on to the Iraqi government.
But what I found most interesting about the story was the role of the Bush administration via their representatives at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Who do you suppose they sided with in this dispute? The Iraqi government, of course. They accused the Texas company of being “unreliable” and “incompetent.” How’s that for an ironic twist. Of course, they can’t side against their puppet regime in Baghdad and any extra money that must be ponied up is ultimately going to come out of U.S. coffers in the end. So it is really no surprise that they would give the American company the back side of their hand in this dispute.