Foreign Policy Blogs

Roundup: Iraq War Creating Problems for US Taxpayers

 
A picture of an Iraqi psychiatric hospital, now in disrepair. (NYTimes.com)
(Note: we know that US troops are suffering from psychiatric disorders upon returning to the US, but what about the Iraqi people?)

It seems that the US is bearing the brunt of reconstruction expenses in Iraq, even though the Iraqi government is projected to receive a $79 billion surplus from oil revenues by the end of 2008.  As the International Herald Tribune reported last week, Iraq is not only not spending its ever-increasing budget, but some of the government's money is actually sitting in a US bank.  The figures offered by the article could be easily misconstrued, such as the fact that the US spent $23.2 billion on reconstruction projects since the 2003 invasion while Iraq only spent $3.9 billion between 2005 and April, 2008.  It seems to me that the majority of US reconstruction spending would have taken place prior to that of Iraq.  Not to mention that oil reconstruction, which allowed for increased Iraqi revenues, was most likely a large chunk of the US budget.  Nonetheless, Americans should be questioning the continuing billion-dollar spending.  One worrisome statistic is that between 2005 and 2007, Iraq only contributed 1 percent of its operating budget to maintain reconstruction projects. 

In another story about budgeting US money in Iraq, The New York Times reported yesterday that 20% of US spending in Iraq has gone to contractors for the US military and other US government agencies.  This extremely interesting article states that private contractors now outnumber US troops in Iraq, and that this large population has allowed the US government to keep troop numbers as low as they are while also avoiding a draft.  Further, US spending on contractors (starting from 2003) is slated to reach over $100 billion by the end of 2008.  I won't paraphrase the entire article here, but I vehemently recommend that everyone read it.  I will be very interested to see how military contracting is used in future conflicts, US and otherwise. 

 

Author

Jennifer Bushaw

Jennifer Bushaw holds an MA from the University of Chicago in Middle Eastern Studies with an emphasis on policy. She focused her research, including her Thesis, on modern Iraq and the Iraq war. She also has a Bachelor's in History from the University of Michigan. Jennifer is currently working as an Investigative Research Associate for a security advisory and management firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Areas of Focus:
Iraq-US Policy; Security; Coalition Operations;

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