Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Something Nobody Wants to Hear

The Washington Post reports that withdrawing from Iraq will be
a "massive and expensive effort" that is likely to increase rather than lower Iraq-related expenditures during the withdrawal and for several years after its completion
The Government Accountability Office report notes the difficulty and expense of closing numerous bases and installations throughout Iraq, and also contains more bad news. Since 2003 the U.S. has provided 87% of the funding for the oil, electricity, and water services in Iraq. And the current situation is still not good.
"Iraqi managers lack the skill level and authority to create plans and buy the materials necessary to sustain projects in the energy and water sectors." Despite both U.S. and Iraqi expenditures, the report said, electricity supply in 2008 met only 52 percent of demand and "many Iraqis are without water" or do not have access to a safe supply.

Are we still going to be paying most of the bill for Iraq's essential services after we withdraw most of our forces? Those costs will rise if the Iraqis allow services to deteriorate because they are unable to handle complete responsibility for their own affairs. 

Often you will hear people talk about how much money we could be saving if we'd just get out of Iraq. Unfortunately we are nowhere near done paying for the Iraq War, and it currently looks like we'll be paying indefinitely. According to the GAO, the withdrawal itself is going to cost a gigantic amount and almost certainly will take longer than anticipated. If conditions deteriorate after military withdrawal, we could end up seeing most of our cost-savings eaten up by the need to provide massive financial support to the Iraqi government.

It would have been nice if the U.S. government had negotiated our withdrawal agreement on the basis of U.S. interests, and secured permanent bases and basing rights, oil concessions, arms contracts, preferential treatment for U.S. firms and a whole array of advantages that would help offset the costs we will continue to incur from Iraq for the foreseeable future. Yeah, I know, getting something for our money is "imperialism," so we couldn't possibly do that.

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