Monday, September 20, 2004

From Anthony Cordesman in today's Financial Times (sub. only):
Virtually without fanfare, the Bush administration has reprogrammed about $3.5bn in aid funds to Iraq in ways that mark a fundamental shift in strategy - and a recognition that much of the US effort in the first year of occupation was a failure.

The administration sent a proposal to Congress last week to reprogramme $3.46bn of spending on Iraqi water, power and other reconstruction projects. Some $1.8bn of that will go toward accelerating the training and equipping of Iraqi police and security forces. In an equally crisis-driven fashion, the rest will be spent on securing and boosting oil exports, creating jobs and providing immediate aid benefits of the kind that could support the elections scheduled for January. Only about $1.2bn of the $18.4bn of US aid funds programmed for the 2004 fiscal year has been spent, and less than $600m has been spent in Iraq. Much of that has been wasted because of sabotage, attacks and bad planning; or has been spent outside the country; or has gone to foreign security forces.

The reprogramming request does far more than shift money. It is a recognition that Paul Bremer, the former US administrator in Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the US military got the first year of the Iraq occupation fundamentally wrong. It is also a de facto recognition that the neo-conservative goals set for restructuring Iraq can never be achieved.
Well said.

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