2003 May 18 Sunday
Lawlessness Preventing Reconstruction In Iraq

The New York Times has an excellent article that shows how the lawlessness in Iraq is preventing normal business from resuming. Reconstruction can not get seriously underway because businesses are staying closed, workers are afraid to leave their homes, and truckers are afraid to drive in supplies. More damage to the electric grid has occurred due to looting than from the war. Attempts to fix the electric grid are undermined by continual theft.

Looters had already pilfered underground cables, carted off computers that regulate power distribution, stolen 25 of the guards' 30 patrol cars, emptied warehouses of spare parts, ransacked substations and shot up transmission lines across the country's electric grid.

Then, his men reported, armed bandits stole the only cable splicer in central Iraq, needed to repair countless vandalized electric lines

A senior US official in Baghdad says the United States has a month to make Baghdad secure or it will be too late.

A senior U.S. official said American and perhaps other forces must improve security first, before beginning to rebuild Iraq. "The real key is security in Baghdad," said the official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. "We have about a month to get that under control; after that, it will be too late."

Oil workers are afraid to go to work.

"How can we get anyone to work if we can't guarantee his security? If this is the way we're going to run our oil industry we're doomed," Saadi said.

"At best we hope to produce what we can refine."

Even that is a tough task as looters have even taken to shooting up pipelines to drain gasoline and sell it on the black market.

People are afraid to leave their houses. Cars are being forced over at gunpoint. Truck drivers are afraid to deliver goods from other countries because the highways are preyed on by armed gangs. The populace can not understand how the US military could have planned such a brilliant invasion and yet has continued to fail to restore order.

The destruction being wreaked during the lawless period is making the cost of reconstruction much higher. The lack of an occupation force is not cost-effective from a purely economic standpoint. Then there is the cost in goodwill and the fact that the lawless period is leading to the development of competing militias affiliated with political parties. Plus, the Islamists are pointing to the lawless period as evidence that the United States really does not care about the Iraqi people and the Iraqis are spinning all sorts of conspiracy theories to explain the seeming unwillingness of American leaders to impose order.

Update: US occupation officials would like to rejail the 100,000 or so criminals that Saddam Hussein pardoned and released in October 2002. But even if they decided they could legally do so they do not know who most of the criminals are.

'We captured some prison records, but I don't believe we have a list,'' of those previously jailed, he said.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 May 18 01:38 AM  Reconstruction and Reformation

Bob said at May 18, 2003 5:03 PM:

Well, I guess it's official: The US military is the most potent force in the world for creating absolute anarchy.

It's sad. We could have actually done something good and worthwhile.

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