US Fears $53B in Iraq Reconstruction Will Go to Ruin

Projects from power plants to hospitals are at risk of sitting idle
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2009 10:35 AM CST
In this Oct. 31, 2007 file photo, workers operate machines at a construction site on the dam in Mosul, northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. Companies working on Iraq reconstruction may have been padding their...   (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed, File)
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(Newser) – As the American troop withdrawal nears, US officials fear the $53 billion taxpayers have spent since 2003 to rebuild Iraq will be squandered. Facilities from power plants and water treatment facilities to schools and hospitals are at risk of being neglected or abandoned for lack of funding or expertise, the New York Times reports.

The Times cites hundreds of cases in which the Iraqi government has declined to take over American-built projects because it couldn't staff or maintain them. The blame is shared, officials say, between Iraqis with poor management skills and American officials who failed to ask Iraqis what they needed most, as well as failing to follow though with adequate training. Iraq's minister of planning adds insult to injury by saying US taxpayers' billions for rebuilding haven't had discernible impact. “Maybe they spent it,” he said, “but Iraq doesn’t feel it.”