Americans Discover Corruption in Iraq


David Corn has gotten hold of a secret report — still in draft form — outlining the concerns that the US military and foreign service have about a “norm of corruption” in the current Iraqi government.
One wonders how holier-than-thou Americans can be here given the rampant corruption we have allowed in no-bid contracting in Iraq and even around the billions in recovery funding for the Katrina tragedy.
Corn writes:

As Congress prepares to receive reports on Iraq from General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and readies for a debate on George W. Bush’s latest funding request of $50 billion for the Iraq war, the performance of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a central and contentious issue.
But according to the working draft of a secret document prepared by the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the Maliki government has failed in one significant area: corruption. Maliki’s government is “not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anticorruption laws,” the report says, and, perhaps worse, the report notes that Maliki’s office has impeded investigations of fraud and crime within the government.
The draft — over 70 pages long — was obtained by The Nation, and it reviews the work (or attempted work) of the Commission on Public Integrity (CPI), an independent Iraqi institution, and other anticorruption agencies within the Iraqi government. Labeled “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED/Not for distribution to personnel outside of the US Embassy in Baghdad,” the study details a situation in which there is little, if any, prosecution of government theft and sleaze.
Moreover, it concludes that corruption is “the norm in many ministries.”

A couple of quick thoughts.
First, in an environment in which there is a second economy of influence or money, the cause is usually that there is no trust in the first economy. Rules and contracts are not enforceable in Iraq, and self-dealing becomes highly rational and important for survival when everyone else is doing it — and when there is a sense that the whole enterprise may collapse at any moment. That is certainly true of Iraq.
So, corruption occurs — and in some circumstances, rational self-dealing can be useful because it helps to influence and sway the behavior of major stakeholders in Iraq’s political system. We can hem and haw about the morality of corrupt government officials, but the more efficacious tactic would be to bribe them ourselves if we care about what they do.
But that requires us to be able to set clear objectives of what we are trying to do, apply resources to the effort, and see it through. America does not seem to have that ability — and seems to insist on operating with the delusion that we are dealing with good guys who actually care about the Iraqi nation.
We are not. Those in Iraq, at the helm now, are self-dealers on the whole — who care about power among their clan and sectarian identity.
And we are only realizing now that they are corrupt? I had thought we were bribing them all along but just weren’t very good at it. We need to get out.
— Steve Clemons


7 comments on “Americans Discover Corruption in Iraq

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “We need to get out.”
    This “we need to get out” business is truly a tragedy. The Iraqi people are fucked if we go, and fucked if we stay.
    There is just no way around it, we broke it horribly, and there are no good options to fix it. In fact, we are incapable of fixing it. And because of that, the dying in Iraq will continue for many years. In truth, in a just society, in a society that is what we claim to be, George Bush and Dick Cheney would hang for war crimes. Yes, I said HANG. They should be impeached, indicted, prosecuted, and punished. Impeachment shouldn’t be a debate, it is a moral and legal OBLIGATION of our representatives to pursue impeachment, and indictment, and prosecution, and punishment.
    But they won’t. And that is why our country is breathing its last gasps. We have completely and utterly ceased to be what we claim to be. Iraq has caused me to be ashamed of my country, its people, and its leaders.
    I never thought I would say that.


  2. Marcia says:

    “We need to get out.”
    Of course we do need to get out but do you think we will?
    The tactic of this administration is always to change the subject and they have mastered the technique of doing this to perfection. Another event, an attack on Iran, or a fabricated internal pretext to use all the new power toys Bush declared himself to have. Why did he proceed with all these signing statements? Can we even pretend they do not intend to use them?
    When they speak of corruption is it really the pot caling the kettle black.


  3. JohnH says:

    Larry, the “starve the beast” attitude towards government ended years ago, probably even before the Bush administration. The new mantra is “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” And so every government program now has a FREE enterprise parasite attached to it. Instead of killing programs, the faithful now get their cut, whether they add value or subtract it. This was the essence of Medicare Part D and it was what Bush’s Social Security privatization was designed to do for Wall Sreet.
    The traditional conservative argument that the government can’t provide services as well as business has become “the government can’t provide services because they would deprive us of our profits if they did.”


  4. JohnH says:

    Yawn, another case of the pot calling the kettle black. The only question is who taught whom more about how to rip off the public in a democracy?
    But what would happen to the FREE enterprise system if the government stopped funneling money to its cronies?


  5. Lurker says:

    It isn’t a solely GOP effort — Donna Brazile, top Clinton advisor, signed a PNAC statemtent, if I remember correctly, in the last year.
    If I don’t remember the exact date, I am almost certain that Brazile signed the PNAC statement in the last two years.
    The Democrats are equally as culpable for Israel and her supporters’ control of U.S. foreign policy.
    And, if you look at their statements, the Democrats are equally as likely to attack Iran for Israel, an attack that would be a disaster for the entire world.
    Steney Hoyer, DEMOCRAT House Majority Leader, just came back from leading a trip to Israel of House members, full of a new impetus to put even more sanctions against Iran. This as the IAEA says that Iran is cooperating with the guidelines of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Screw both parties, they are going to get us all killed. For Israel and the military/ industrial complex — which are close to being one and the same.


  6. Carroll says:

    Oh Jesus, this too funny!
    Iraq government is corrupt?
    And this startling discovery is from the same idiots who selected the embezzler Chalabi and sent 12 billion dollars to Iraq in shrink wrapped $100’s and stored it in Breamer’s basement and handed it out to the sub contractor of the sub contractors of the no bid contactors at the pentagon without collecting any receipts?
    Please God take me now while I still have a mind left to lose.


  7. Larry Brennis says:

    Corruption? Isn’t the whole point of the war on terror to “starve the Beast”, in the effort to destroy the legacy of FDR and “social welfare”. Isn’t it called for in the PNAC. I simply fail to understand why Congress continues to fund the this GOP effort.


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