Because it has been more than two years since the original invasion of Iraq, much of the American public has forgotten how easy Bush administration officials predicted the occupation of Iraq would be. The Washington Post reports the hard truth:
Efforts to rebuild water, electricity and health networks in Iraq are being shortchanged by higher-than-expected costs to provide security and by generous financial awards to contractors, according to a series of reports by government investigators released yesterday.
Taken together, the reports seem to run contrary to the Bush administration’s upbeat assessment that reconstruction efforts are moving vigorously ahead and that the insurgency is dying down.
Here are just a couple of instances of the Bush administration’s rosy rhetoric failing to meet the current harsh reality in Iraq:
CLAIM: Iraq Reconstruction Would Cost Only $1.7 Billion
TED KOPPEL: You’re saying the, the top cost for the US taxpayer will be $1.7 billion. No more than that?
ANDREW NATSIOS, director of U.S. Agency for International Development: For the reconstruction. And then there’s 700 million in the supplemental budget for humanitarian relief, which we don’t competitively bid ’cause it’s charities that get that money.
TED KOPPEL: I understand. But as far as reconstruction goes, the American taxpayer will not be hit for more than $1.7 billion no matter how long the process takes?
ANDREW NATSIOS: That is our plan and that is our intention. And these figures, outlandish figures I’ve seen, I have to say, there’s a little bit of hoopla involved in this. [ABC, Nightline, 4/23/03]
FACT: U.S. Has Appropriated $24 Billion For Iraq Reconstruction
“The reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan together represent the largest U.S. assistance efforts since World War II. In Iraq alone, the GAO said, the United States has allocated $24 billion and has spent $9 billion since 2003.” [Washington Post, 7/29/05]
CLAIM: Iraq Could Finance Own Reconstruction With Oil Money
PAUL WOLFOWITZ: “And on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.”[House Appropriations Committee, 3/27/03]
FACT: Crude Oil Production Has Declined In Past 2 Years
“Crude oil production has also dropped in the past two years, even with more than $5 billion in U.S. and Iraqi funds available for rebuilding. Oil export revenue is needed to fund more than 90 percent of the nascent Iraqi government’s 2005 budget, the State Department has said.” [Washington Post, 7/29/05]
“Restoring and sustaining Iraq’s crude oil production and export capacity have been slower than originally planned, and these levels were lower in May 2005 than in March 2003.” [GAO report, July 2005]