Saturday, January 08, 2005

Democracy building in iraq

The reconstruction budget for iraq lists $162 million already spent for "Democracy", more money than has been spent for oil reconstruction. reference

I wondered where that money went. Here's where:


In 2003, while U.S. troops waged war in Iraq, RTI International won a huge contract to build the peace. Originally budgeted at up to $467 million over three years to help bring democracy to Iraq, it was part of the largest nation-building effort since World War II's Marshall Plan.

But now the U.S. government isn't renewing that contract, even as the country prepares for crucial national elections in January. About 2,000 of RTI's Iraqi employees and 200 international staff have already lost their jobs this year because of contract cutbacks made by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

By coincidence a report last year said RTI had 200 international staff in iraq and 2000 iraqi employees.

RTI won the USAID contract April 11, 2003. It submitted the only bid. A senior USAID project officer told The Washington Post that RTI was "the linchpin, the catalysts, the enablers" for reconstruction efforts.

RTI was supposed to open offices and hire staff in all 18 Iraqi provinces; design programs to help women, children and minorities; train local government officials and create neighborhood, city and regional government councils; process and administer small emergency-grant requests; and coordinate it all with the military and other humanitarian organizations.

For various reasons it just didn't work out.

- The Coalition official in charge of the Kut compound refused to authorize the placement of defensive measures along the river, saying that they would obstruct the view. The compound at Kut was besieged and overrun by insurgent forces.

There was a rumor among the iraqis that they were zionists....

Permanently pulling international staff from many rural provinces "was an overt decision," Johnson said. "The more outlying the province, the more we were very much on our own. We didn't know how long (violence) would last - we were stretched too thin to protect 17 different locations," he said.

What's this about 15 of the 18 provinces being all quiet? Maybe it's quiet wherever the US troops aren't, provided we don't send any civilians.

Michael Rubin, who had an inside view of the Iraq policy debates in the Bush administration and of RTI's work, said, "It was almost like we hired RTI to build an appliance, and then the time came to plug it in, and no one plugged it in."

Rubin served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in Baghdad from 2002 to 2004, and is now with the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

"The fact that we're allowing this to fall on its face does a disservice to our whole mission," he said.

Well, yes.

RTI and others will be able to bid on a new multiyear USAID contract next year.

And others. Want to go in there and take RTI's place?


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