US Wasted $8B in Aid to Rebuild Iraq: Report

US managers insisted on large projects Iraqis did not want, says assessment
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2013 3:35 PM CST
In this photo taken Feb. 19, 2013, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen gestures during an interview in his office in Arlington, Va.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – At least $8 billion of the $60 billion spent by the United States on Iraq reconstruction was wasted due to US insistence on large rebuilding projects that the Iraqis did not want—that's according to the long-awaited, 171-page report "Learning From Iraq," released today by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, reports the New York Times. For the most part, rebuilding projects were poorly planned and supervised, with American managers operating "in a vacuum" and little Iraqi input, according to one Iraqi official.

Although there were a few success stories—the report cites the Port of Umm Qasr—in the end, the judgment was “too much money was spent with too few results,” says James Jeffrey, the American ambassador in Iraq from 2010 to 2012. The report also criticizes President Obama's withdrawal of troops in December 2011, quoting Leon Panetta as saying that the end of the US presence cost America much of its leverage to stop the Iraqi government from making "bad decisions" and "going off a cliff." You can read the full report at the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction website. (Read more Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction stories.)

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