Monday, January 02, 2006

Streets of Crap

I never thought much of the chances for our Iraq Excellent Adventure, but I did think a narrow window of opportunity existed right after the invasion such that if we really could've gone in and metaphorically paved the streets with gold - got the infrastructure working, made noticeable improvements in peoples' daily lives very quickily - that we would've at least been a bit more popular with the locals. The basic ethnic conflict issues would've remained but perhaps US soldiers and the occupation generally wouldn't have been as much the targets of the insurgency as they are now. Now, it seems, we're just going to give up.

BAGHDAD -- The Bush administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February, officials say. The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein.

Just under 20 percent of the reconstruction package remains unallocated. When the last of the $18.4 billion is spent, U.S. officials in Baghdad have made clear, other foreign donors and the fledgling Iraqi government will have to take up what authorities say is tens of billions of dollars of work yet to be done merely to bring reliable electricity, water and other services to Iraq's 26 million people.

"The U.S. never intended to completely rebuild Iraq," Brig. Gen. William McCoy, the Army Corps of Engineers commander overseeing the work, told reporters at a recent news conference. In an interview this past week, McCoy said: "This was just supposed to be a jump-start."

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