Reconstruction woes

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In less flippant Iraq news, Juan Cole has the rightly angry take on new reports of millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on a failed attempt to rebuild Iraq’s water, sewage, and electrical systems.

Oddly, the Los Angeles Times piece Cole quotes seems to go out of its way to blame Iraqi incompetence for being unable to run the electrical and water treatment plants that were built by the private U.S. contractors. But that’s ludicrous on its face. Iraqis had little trouble, it seems, running these sorts of plants before the U.S. invasion in 2003—under a regime, mind you, crippled by sanctions and suffering a “brain drain” from the fleeing educated class. So why are they having so much trouble now? Cole thinks it’s because the plants were build “in the American way,” rather than using Iraqi techniques and parts. Maybe. The Iraqis in the Times piece, meanwhile, complain that “the Americans excluded them from the early stages of the projects and have not provided adequate funds for upkeep.” Either way, read the Times piece—it’s a fascinating glimpse at how chaotic and shamefully inept the entire reconstruction process has really been.

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without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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