Derelict Iraqi Water Park a Symbol of US Fund Abuses

Program gave US officers great flexibility, but also led to waste
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2011 6:47 AM CST
The Jadriyah Lake Park, restored to great fanfare in 2008, is again derelict, a symbol of the mismanagement of a $5 billion rebuilding program.   (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

(Newser) – A derelict water park in Baghdad is testament to the waste and mismanagement of a $5 billion rebuilding program run by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past six years, reports the Washington Post. The Commander's Emergency Response Program all but did away with bureaucratic hassles, giving US officers the ability to move quickly to address perceived needs, but the Post reports that many of the projects that emerged from it reveal a lack of US foresight and an emphasis on the illusion of progress.

Supporters say the program was an invaluable tool for building relationships and allies, but critics say it was a waste of money and mismanaged—even worse, sometimes the money did more harm than good. "We did run a danger of looking like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned," said a US commander. Others point to Iraqi official's lack of involvement as a major issue that undermined the projects' long-term viability. To wit, two years after the marching band-led opening ceremony, the water park sits nearly waterless: With the power cut off, the water pumps stopped working and the 12,140-square-foot lake dried up.

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