Iraq: An Unchecked Government

Rumaila oil field in southern Iraq. Credit unknown.

The latest report from the excellent International Crisis Group makes for sober reading on Iraq. Having spent some $3 trillion and presided over the death of a documented 112,253 civilian deaths — and who knows how many more undocumented — you’d think the “Coalition of the Willing” might have succeeded in setting up a vaguely functioning government. Not a bit.

As violence spread following the 2003 U.S. invasion, and in an environment of escalating kidnappings, explosions and assassinations, public services were thoroughly devastated, and Iraq witnessed an explosive and alarming rise in corruption. Longstanding projects were abandoned overnight, and judges and parliamentarians were targeted.

Oversight agencies, which should have been less exposed to risk because of their lack of direct contact with the general population, were forced to roll back their operations, leaving state institutions without effective safeguards against corruption or abuse. As a result, state output declined dramatically for a number of years, even as the annual budget steadily increased due to elevated oil prices.

The state’s paralysis contributed to the proliferation of graft, nepotism and other criminal activity throughout the bureaucracy…

Read the full report here.

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