General McCoy is rightfully proud of the American reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Much good has and will be done. But at what cost? The Wall Street Journal, citing the recent audit of Iraq reconstruction efforts, reports ($) the following:
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen said in his quarterly audit that the Iraqi government estimates that corruption costs the country at least $4 billion a year, a staggering sum for a war—ravaged country that remains heavily dependent on foreign aid. Iraq's anticorruption agency has opened 1,400 criminal cases alleging some $5 billion of theft by Iraqi officials, including a widening probe into a former defense minister accused of stealing or misspending more than $1 billion, the report said.
"It could undermine progress in every sector unless it's aggressively addressed," Mr. Bowen said in an interview yesterday.
A succession of Iraqi prime ministers have identified corruption as one of the largest threats to the country's future and vowed to bring the problem under control, and there have been some successes. In mid—May, for example, Iraqi agents broke up a ring suspected of smuggling at least 1,200 truckloads of stolen Iraqi oil into Syria, operating with the help of officials from Iraq's border police and at least three government ministries.
Nonetheless, the report bluntly concluded that "corruption threatens to undermine Iraq's democracy," citing a recent poll that found one—third of all Iraqis paid bribes so far this year.
Larry Kudlow at the National Review thinks Congress has been remiss in its duty of overseeing the spending of the monies it authorizes and what we need is a present—day Harry Truman to fight waste and corruption:
What we sorely need now is a Harry Truman.
When Truman was an unknown senator from Missouri during WWII, he chaired hearings that rooted out corruption in various war—related contracts among defense suppliers. In doing so, he made a real name for himself as a corruption fighter, prompting FDR to put him on the presidential ticket in 1944.
Truman's panel was called the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, but from the start it was known as the 'Truman Committee,' according to historian David McCullough. The senator held numerous hearings in Washington, and traveled all over the country gathering facts and figures....
For Truman, this was all part of being a pro—war patriot, and by 1943 his committee had produced 21 separate reports. McCullough points out, 'unquestionably, [Truman's] relentless watchdog roll . . . greatly increased public confidence in how the war was being run.'
Public confidence? With public confidence in the Iraq War plummeting today, I can only ask, 'Where is today's Harry Truman?'
Good question. Any volunteers? For those with plenty of time on their hands and in a mood to devote that time to waste and corruption fighting, the full 231 page, 6.5mb report is available.
Good luck! Just don't forget your flak vest, M—16 and helmet with the green eye shade.
Dennis Sevakis 08 10 06