Up the River

Jon Carroll writes for The Chron about blogs coming out of Iraq — not American journalists blogging from abroad (though some of those are quite excellent, but Iraqis telling the story from their perspective.

One of the cited blogs quotes an Iraqi construction engineer, whose very experienced construction firm estimated the cost to repair a bombed-out bridge at around $300,000. Allowing for overruns and excess, just to be really really safe, quadruple that to $1.2 million. Then the American bid on the same job comes in: A cool $50 million.

Iraqis need the work, need the cash circulation. But Iraqi firms aren’t allowed to bid on jobs to repair their own country. Only American firms — Halliburton and Bechtel, right? — can do that. And they get to write a blank check. With your money.

Foul beyond description.

Music: Super Chikan :: El Camino

4 Replies to “Up the River”

  1. No, it’s our money. Oil revenues will never come near covering these expenses. We’re borrowing it all and we’ll be paying interest to fatcats till the end of time.

  2. From what I’ve been told the cost inflation is not for the reasons that we think taking this at face value. These building projects will be implimented using Iraqi labor and Iraqi engineers. The catch? The iraqi labor will be paid much-much more than under Saddam’s regime (but still cheap by American-worker standards). The estimate that you quote came from one of those Iraqi-blogs (I’ve seen it, can’t remember which one). That blog is written by a person who’s family did very well under Saddam’s regime by doing a lot of work for Saddam. Therefore, the estimate use the economics of scale from that era (aka rip off the labor, etc).

    In addition to these factors, Iraq has little to no upper management/corporate structure, again because of the former regime. While this blogger’s family (a small-medium sized contractor) could handle doing one bridge, they most likely can’t handle the entire country.

    Enter giant American corporations stage left. They organize, hire, direct, and fund the rebuilding of the nation, _hopefully_ in the process establishing the infrastructure that will eventually replace them in Iraq’s internal affairs (how likely is this? you decide). To do this we need to pay these corporations on top of everything else.

    In short, things are a little more complicated than meets the eye. Is there elements of warmongering and profiteering? Yes. Is it entirely evil and unreasonable? Not necessary…

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