Monday, March 27, 2006

Iraq's missing billions

A week ago, a documentary was shown on Channel 4 about the billions of money earmarked for the reconstruction of Iraq that somehow "disappeared". I would expect this sort of thing to happen when the money is coming from a Middle East dictatorship, but somehow, I expected more from the United States. Here is an extract from the preview of the programme:
"As word spread of the kind of money that could be made in Iraq, foreign contractors flocked. “These were people who had no interest in fostering democracy. They had no interest even in carrying out their instructions. What they were interested in was simply making a profit”, states lawyer Alan Grayson.

Companies like Custer Battles billed for work they hadn’t done and charged the CPA a 1000% mark up for their expenses. They spray painted abandoned Iraqi vehicles and hired them to the government at an exorbitant rate. But despite undeniable evidence of fraud, the government took no steps to recover the money. Custer was even allowed to keep their contracts. “The government wants to foster the view that things are going well in Iraq. Coming down hard on war profiteering is inconsistent with that goal”, explains Grayson".
As a supporter of the war in Iraq, the complacency of the Bush administration sickens me. How do you plan to make Iraq a beacon of democracy and freedom when you tolerate the kind of corruption that wouldn't look out of place in a banana republic?

No doubt the Anti-War brigade (who made their minds up years ago) will use this documentary as an excuse for another round of "US-bashing". But for those of us who believe in seeing the war through , our job has been made a lot harder.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Will Jack Straw speak up?

As Abdul Rahman's life continues to hang in the balance, one voice has been noticeably silent, that of Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.

As Charles Moore points out, Jack Straw wasted no time when it came to condemning the Danish cartoons for their alleged insensitivity (something his Government bore no responsbility for). In Afghanistan however, Britain undertook to liberate Afghanistan from the forces of extremism, so surely it has the responsibility to at least voice concern about what is happening there.

Unfortunately, Jack Straw is a weak man, motivated more by a desire to appease Islamic extremists than by any desire for justice. When it came to the cartoon row, he was keen not to upset the extremists. By keeping silent on this occasion, he is merely doing the same thing.