NATION-BUILDING: A SUCCESS IN IRAQ?
By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
To begin with, he cites the International Monetary Fund's report that Iraq will have the twelfth fastest growing economy in the world with a projected 7% economic growth this year, but such a statistic is misleading because, as in Hugo Chávez's Venezuela, this expansion is almost entirely due to rising oil prices, and has nothing to do with development projects funded by U.S. taxpayers. Indeed, Iraq has become increasingly oil-dependent like its neighbors in the Gulf region, such that petroleum revenues account for about 70% of GDP and around 90% of government revenues.
The growing reliance on oil for income is having several adverse effects. Most importantly, since the oil industry is not labor intensive, the present Iraqi government can do little to alleviate the problem of unemployment in the country that stands at approximately 15%. Nations that depend on petroleum exports for income normally create bureaucratic jobs that serve little practical purpose to compensate for the lack of employment opportunities offered by the petroleum industry. Nonetheless, this cannot be done much further in Iraq, where the state is already the largest employer with a workforce of around 3 million, or roughly 10% of the population. Since 2005, the number of public employees has doubled.
In fact, the revenues from petroleum have provided the government an excuse for leaving unreformed the top-down, centralized command economy that is a legacy of, in the words of Daniel Pipes, the "Stalinist nightmare of Saddam Hussein," from which Iraq is still emerging. The results? Massive corruption and inefficient bureaucracy that hinder any major reconstruction efforts. If anything, the pouring in of development money from the U.S.A. has only increased corruption. In 2003, Iraq ranked 113th out of 133 countries on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Six years later, Iraq fell to 176th out of 180 countries.
As for bureaucracy, one need only look at the prolonged and poor quality construction of schools, hospitals, water treatment plants, and electricity substations. In 2009, the World Bank ranked Iraq 153rd out of 183 countries for ease of doing business, and 94th out of 183 countries for dealing with construction permits. On average, fourteen permits are required to build anything in the country and take 215 days to complete. For example, in May, 2010, the city of Karbala in the south announced a plan to build 250 housing units, yet by the end of June, nothing had happened owing to difficulty in obtaining the necessary licenses.
A further problem is that ambitious reconstruction projects funded by U.S. taxpayers, even if finished, lack skilled workers to manage them effectively, something which Brooks concedes. Such an outcome was a result of the fact that Iraqis were often not consulted as to whether they wanted these reconstruction projects in the first place. For instance, in Hilla, sixty miles south of Baghdad, a $4 million maternity hospital built by the U.S.A. is largely unable to serve its purpose because the staff cannot operate most of the equipment. Likewise, a sewage treatment system in Fallujah, at a cost of $104 million, has been left partly finished, unable to operate at full capacity and only able to serve at most one sixth of the city's residents because of poor quality work on construction and a lack of sufficiently trained Iraqi staff to put it to proper use.
A minor point advanced by Brooks is the fact that there is increased Internet access, along with ownership and availability of consumer goods such as cell phones. Again, though, none of this can be attributed to U.S. spending on reconstruction efforts, but is actually due to the removal of tariffs by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in the period 2003-2004, which led to a flood of cheap imports from China, Iran, and Turkey -- and aggravated the problem of unemployment in the immediate aftermath of the invasion. Moreover, ownership of consumer goods is not a real indication of the humanitarian situation in Iraq, which has the highest illiteracy rate and the second highest infant mortality rate in the Middle East.
With all these major shortcomings, is it any surprise that the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, in direct contradiction of Brooks' explicit statement that "nation building … has been a success," considers the rebuilding enterprise since 2003 a failure?
Nevertheless, the question arises of who is to blame for this monumental waste of money. Of course, one feels tempted to blame Iraqis, but, as Daniel Pipes concludes, "the real blame belongs with the George W. Bush administration, which had a vision of "a free, … stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq" and did not let realities get in the way of its fantasy. As so often was the case with Bush, the motives were good, but the implementation terrible."
The Problem of Rogue States:
Iraq as a Case History
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three Page Two Page One
International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security
U.S. National Security Strategy
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Oxford University and an intern at the Middle East Forum.
The foregoing article by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi was originally published in the Foreign Policy Journal, September 15, 2010, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-ŕ-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/ 2747/iraq-nation-building)
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration
Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor