2009 November 25 Wednesday
United States Built Infrastructure Iraqis Can't Maintain
Imagine a world where instead of wasting a couple trillion dollars on Iraq we had spent the money on ways to replace oil imports. We'd have higher living standards and a lower trade deficit. The Iraqis can't maintain the infrastructure we built.
BAGHDAD — In its largest reconstruction effort since the Marshall Plan, the United States government has spent $53 billion for relief and reconstruction in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, building tens of thousands of hospitals, water treatment plants, electricity substations, schools and bridges.
A society that can't build some infrastructure is also a society that can't maintain it.
But there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, potentially wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Iraq’s ability to provide basic services to its people.
Read the full article. The US builds facilities, hands them over to the Iraqi government, and the facilities are immediately closed. Not enough engineers, doctors, nurses, and other skilled workers to use the facilities that US taxpayers paid to build. The Iraqis do not feel grateful because they are still poor and see lots of destruction around them. Plus, they resent that we are there in the first place.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan US officials are looking at building alliances with tribes since obviously the central government is never going to amount to much more than a big corruption racket.
A lack of realism about human nature causes American governments to engage in massively wasteful and futile undertakings. The lies that pass for politically correct conventional wisdom about human nature lead to wealth destruction and decay of our own society while simultaneously breeding resentment abroad. When rational thinking about the evidence on human nature is placed beyond the pale there's a big price to pay and we are paying it.
Hell, we don't have to go to Iraq to get a lesson in what happens when you turn over first world infrastructure to a 3rd world population. Look at our next door neighbor for crissakes. What do you think our own infrastructure is going to look like in 50 years, when half the people maintaining it will have come from the same gene pool as Mexico's poorest mestizos?
Iraq was able to build and maintain plenty of infrastructure in the past.
The current situation is the outcome of the inter-tribal and inter-sect warfare Bush allowed to proliferate until the surge of bribery reduced the carnage. Everybody with means fled the country. I expect most of the folks who fled to Jordan are still there. If the US leaves and if the violence does not ramp up when that happens, it might be safe for all the professionals to return.
In the meantime, I don't think it would be wise to uproot a family yet again and return without any long-term assurance of personal security.
I second Bob Badour on the ability of Iraq to build and maintain infrastructure. My uncle used to work for Saddam Hussain from the 1970ies to the 1990ies. Building chicken farms and slaughterhouses all over Iraq. Saddam said the goal was to get every Iraqi to get 3 chickens a week even in the far away places. And the goal was nearly achieved in 1990.
Saddam was really bad at foreign relations. But he understood what made Iraq tick unussually well.
It's a shame we didn't just steal their oil like the Left claimed.
I suspect that Iraq's historical infrastructure was built by the British Empire, as was most of the infrastructure of the Third World. When the British army pulled out in the late 30s, the Iraqis "celebrated" their departure by massacreing 30,000 Iraqi Christians.
Their cultural problems are much deeper than just being unable to maintain infrastructure, IMHO. Most of the people now living in Iraq are not the people who built the Mesopotamian civilization, they are the descendants of the Arab conquerors and their slaves from various cultures. As the capital of the Arab Muslim empire, Bagdad was a big destination point for African slaves and quite a lot of the existing population are descended from them. They were called the "Zanj" because they came from the slave markets on Zanzibar. The Iraqis stopped importing African slaves after a famous slave revolt that caused much destruction and bloodshed up and down the Empire.