Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Official History Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders

A 513 page federal history on the Iraq reconstruction was compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., a Republican lawyer who regularly travels to Iraq and has a staff of engineers and auditors based here. Here are some of the accounts in this first official federal historical document on the Iraq reconstruction entitled “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience" -
  • Ignorance: Pentagon planners efforts were crippled by spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.
  • Lies: when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures. Colin Powell said the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week"
  • Incompetence: The Bush Administration has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.
  • Politics over planning: Republicans put a greater priority on making things "look good" for Bush because of the 2004 election instead of efficient and competent use of money. Office of Management and Budget balked at the American occupation authority’s abrupt request for about $20 billion in new reconstruction money in August 2003, a veteran Republican lobbyist working for the authority made a bluntly partisan appeal to Joshua B. Bolten, then the O.M.B. director and now the White House chief of staff. “To delay getting our funds would be a political disaster for the President,” wrote the lobbyist, Tom C. Korologos. “His election will hang for a large part on show of progress in Iraq and without the funding this year, progress will grind to a halt.” With administration backing, Congress allocated the money later that year.
  • Poor planning: As an example of the haphazard planning, a civilian official at the United States Agency for International Development was at one point given four hours to determine how many miles of Iraqi roads would need to be reopened and repaired. The official searched through the agency’s reference library, and his estimate went directly into a master plan.
  • Early miscalculations: The history records how Jay Garner, Chief of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, presented Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld with several rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq. “What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan.“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said.“My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”
"...the government as a whole has never developed a legislatively sanctioned doctrine or framework for planning, preparing and executing contingency operations in which diplomacy, development and military action all figure.”
And to think in the midst of this recession in America, billions of dollars are flying out of America every week to try to repair the damage of the Bush legacy.

Two economists take an unflinching look at the final costs of invading Iraq in a book, "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict," by Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize-winner in economics, and Linda Bilmes, a budget and public finance expert at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. How do the authors arrive at the $3 trillion figure of the title, and the still bigger numbers they report inside? To the administration's own requests for money they add other costs to the taxpayer that either appear elsewhere in the budget (such as the bonuses required to attract recruits put off by the war) or do not yet appear at all (such as the future disability claims of wounded veterans).

In comparison the $600 billion so far authorized for Iraq is just a down payment of the $3 trillion figure.

Iraq War Results & Statistics at December 10, 2008
4,209 US Soldiers Killed, 30,848 Seriously Wounded
By Deborah White, About.com

For your quick reading, here are key statistics about the Iraq War, taken primarily from data analyzed by various think tanks, including The Brookings Institution's Iraq Index, and from mainstream media sources. Data is presented as of December 10, 2008, except as indicated.


  • Spent & Approved War-Spending - About $800 billion of US taxpayers' funds spent or approved for spending through mid-2009.
  • U.S. Monthly Spending in Iraq - $12 billion in 2008
  • U.S. Spending per Second - $5,000 in 2008 (per Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on May 5, 2008)
  • Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq - $390,000 (Congressional Research Service)
  • Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.
  • Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)
  • Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings
  • Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion
  • Amount paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items - $20 billion
  • Portion of the $20 billion paid to KBR that Pentagon auditors deem "questionable or supportable" - $3.2 billion
  • Number of major U.S. bases in Iraq - 75 (The Nation/New York Times)
  • Iraqi Troops Trained and Able to Function Independent of U.S. Forces - 6,000 as of May 2007 (per NBC's "Meet the Press" on May 20, 2007)
  • Troops in Iraq - Total 152,350, including 146,000 from the US, 4,000 from the UK, 900 from Poland, 650 from South Korea and 800 from all other nations
  • U.S. Troop Casualties - 4,209 US troops; 98% male. 91% non-officers; 82% active duty, 11% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 9% African-American, 11% Latino. 19% killed by non-hostile causes. 54% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 72% were from the US Army
  • Non-U.S. Troop Casualties - Total 314, with 177 from the UK
  • US Troops Wounded - 30,848, 20% of which are serious brain or spinal injuries (total excludes psychological injuries)
  • US Troops with Serious Mental Health Problems - 30% of US troops develop serious mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home
  • US Military Helicopters Downed in Iraq - 68 total, at least 36 by enemy fire
  • Private Contractors in Iraq, Working in Support of US Army Troops - More than 180,000 in August 2007, per The Nation/LA Times.
  • Journalists killed - 135, 91 by murder and 44 by acts of war
  • Journalists killed by US Forces - 14
  • Iraqi Police and Soldiers Killed - 8,792
  • Iraqi Civilians Killed, Estimated - A UN issued report dated Sept 20, 2006 stating that Iraqi civilian casualties have been significantly under-reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be much higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian casualities at over 600,000.
  • Iraqi Insurgents Killed, Roughly Estimated - 55,000
  • Non-Iraqi Contractors and Civilian Workers Killed - 556
  • Non-Iraqi Kidnapped - 306, including 57 killed, 147 released, 4 escaped, 6 rescued and 89 status unknown.
  • Daily Insurgent Attacks, Feb 2004 - 14
  • Daily Insurgent Attacks, July 2005 - 70
  • Daily Insurgent Attacks, May 2007 - 163
  • Estimated Insurgency Strength, Nov 2003 - 15,000
  • Estimated Insurgency Strength, Oct 2006 - 20,000 - 30,000
  • Estimated Insurgency Strength, June 2007 - 70,000
  • Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 - 2,255,000
  • Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan - 2.1 million to 2.25 million
  • Iraqi Unemployment Rate - 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect
  • Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 - 50%
  • Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition - 28% in June 2007 (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)
  • Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%
  • Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000
  • Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000
  • Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000
  • Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)
  • Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 10.9 in May 2007
  • Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 5.6 in May 2007
  • Pre-War Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 16 to 24
  • Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems - 37%
  • Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies - 70% (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)
  • Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated - 22%
RESULTS OF POLL Taken in Iraq in August 2005 by the British Ministry of Defense (Source: Brookings Institute)
  • Iraqis "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops - 82%
  • Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security - less than 1%
  • Iraqis who feel less secure because of the occupation - 67%
  • Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces - 72%

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