War is Theft: Pentagon cannot account for $8.6 Billion of Iraq’s Reconstruction Funds

The Pentagon cannot account for the over $8 bn. given out to cronies in the first years of the Iraq occupation, money which came from Iraq’s oil proceeds to begin with.

The reason is that in the chaotic days after the fall of the Baath government and the collapse of the old economy, Paul Bremer & Co. attempted to jump-start the Iraq market economy by giving out large sums in brown paper bags with no questions asked. They did not understand that the Iraqi market had been killed by decades of government control and that no magic hand any longer existed, so they might as well have taken that money and buried it in the ground. (Actually some of it probably was buried, in back yards in Fairfax County, Va.)

The real problem, though, is not petty larceny but that no one can account for our whole country being gone in the aftermath of the 2003 illegal war– with a cancellation by John Roberts of our Bill of Rights, $2 trillion missing from the treasury for the wars and their related costs (at least), torture still permitted overseas, arbitrary no-fly punishments meted out to peaceful protesters, the entire Republican Party kidnapped and stealthily replaced with glaze-eyed Manchurian cultists, and habeas corpus permanently embezzled and bamboozled out of existence.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was wrong when he declared in 1840 that ‘property is theft.’

But I can offer a more solid and more consistently true aphorism: “War is theft.”

And not only of money; of supposedly inalienable rights, as well.

Nor is it over with. AP notes that the US has put $51 billion into Afghanistan since 2001 for education, roads, water, jobs and electricity. Now Washington is planning to spend another $20 bn. in Afghanistan the coming year alone. That total sum, $71 bn. is greater than what was spent (from US monies) on Iraq. The news service writes:

“An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year. ”

10 Responses

  1. Think about those statistics. Approximately 30 million Afghans, spending $51 billion of giving them electricity and succeeding in increasing electrification from 6% to 10%, in other words from about 1.8 million to 3 million, or an increase of 1.2 million for $51 billion. I don’t know where my calculator went, but I can work by hand too, and unless I really screwed up that’s $42,500 per electrified Afghani household. How many hands were in there, importing high-priced Western goods, adding bribes and profits on top of real shipping expenses, hiring relatives of government officials or other well-connected smoothies as “consultants” or “advisers,” and what percentage of those hands were from the NATO allies? A few Afghan hands got in there, I’m sure, but Juan is correct, northern Virginia is the location of a lot very respectable old retired people with very nice homes who have committed horrendous thefts and murders in lands outside the USA.

    I have generally been pro-foreign-aid in my writings, the climate change crisis is forcing me to re-think my long-held belief that we need international progressives to unite behind a 3-to-4-generation education campaign ending in a global, de-centralized, federal governmental structure. Maybe the crisis accelerates the desperate need to get there, maybe it’s just a goal too far for us stupid apes, we could never do it well enough. I say all this to reinforce my credentials as an internationalist, I haven’t stressed it on my website but it’s in my collected writings.

    Nevertheless, do you think America in 2008-10 couldn’t have used a well-targeted $51 billion more? How about $5 billion for budget support for each state, or a Civilian Conservation Corps (even with expenses nineteen times an average wage of $25 grand, equals $500,000 per worker) that employed 102,000 of the unemployed for a year? Even a straight giveaway or rebate of $167 to each citizen would have approximately doubled the annual tax reduction that the Democrats have enacted in recent budgets, might have made it tangible to the average citizen.

    Considering American public opinion, I think it’s safe to say that less than half would voluntarily offer to pay $167 a year for electrifying 1.2 million Afghans if asked; if it was put to a vote and the Republicans were allowed any lying TV ads at all it, the proposition would fail by an 80 or 90-percent vote opposed.

    So the whole thing is very depressing to those of us who actually have hopes that human beings can use rational thought or intelligent diplomacy to solve actual problems. Afghan poverty and lack of electricity is there on the list of global problems, not the highest perhaps yet also not the lowest, but the American security-state-empire’s way of dealing with them is clearly unsustainable, undesirable to the American taxpayers if they were actually given a choice in it, and un-supportable by clear-thinking friends of any kind of positive internationalism in humanity’s future.

  2. Correction, in the first paragraph, that would be $42,500 per electrified individual Afghani citizen, not Afghani household, again assuming all these numbers I’ve checked a few times now are correct.

  3. Fred Kaplan (and others notably the WSJ) have highlighted our “can’t win for losing” results wrt to finally getting the hydrolectric dam operating at better capacity (we were responsible for building the dam back in 1974), confounded by the Taliban collecting the monthly electricity fees resulting in — according to Kaplan/WSJ — the Taliban getting credit for the electricity being turned on (and the power to turn it off and/or divert it to their advantage) while the Americans are blamed when electricity fails. Which begs the question of WHY in this vast impoverished, corrupt country we are charging people for this electricity since it appears to merely create yet another “revenue stream” to be abused, diverted, etc. Not to mention, the well-known inherent “unreliability” of power grids which become obviously ripe targets for sabotage.

    The environmental consequences of all those gasoline generators occupation have brought to both Iraq and Afghanistan gives pause as well — noise, exhaust, even less efficient use of fossil fuels — oddly, I find myself wondering which are the field tested “preferred brands.” Suspect they aren’t American made.

    link to slate.com

    The project has doubled the plant’s electrical output, much of it to Helmand province, where U.S. forces are now engaged in a protracted fight with Taliban insurgents. The idea is that improving the Afghan people’s lives (something that a more reliable flow of electricity would do) might rally them to support the Afghan government (on whose behalf we’ve made this investment) and steer them away from the Taliban (who, the people would see, can’t give them what they need).

    The problem is that the Taliban control vast swaths of the province, including much of the power grid. So they collect the monthly electricity bills—going door to door to do so—and use the money to fund the war against us.

    And because the Taliban are out there collecting the bills (and sometimes siphoning off the power and redirecting the lines away to more cooperative households), they get the credit for the electricity, too.

    (unsure of my html so I’ll leave it there)

  4. I was told that the US would be fully repaid for the costs of the war from the proceeds of Iraqi oil. I’d say that a lot of people’s pockets have been picked.

    • You thought the Iraqis were going to pay for the destruction USA wreaked on their country? – all the USA should be getting is a bill for war reparations.

    • Iraqis should reimburse the USA for bombs dropped on their homes, bullets used to kill their families?

  5. I cannot but be sympathetic to Proudhon’s view that “property is theft” when food (and soon water) is private property. When people cannot afford to buy the food that they produce because of the requirements of capital, surely private property is robbing untold numbers of children of their lives. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which also to my chagrin also sanctifies private property).

  6. Yet one more proof, if it were needed, that that the central purpose of government is the looting of the governed.

  7. The Republican Party was “kidnapped and stealthily replaced with glaze-eyed Manchurian cultists”?

    Really? Somehow the word “Manchurian” conjures up a different image, you know, like of a presidential candidate…

    But I guess that kind of comment is too uninformed for the hopeful. It’s too conspiratorial. After all, Republicans conspire, not Democrats. And Democrats certainly don’t conspire with Republicans.

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