Brace yourselves- Kevin Drum and I agree. Kevin notes that this CPA report on the reconstruction in Iraq states that far less than what should have been spent and has been earmaked has been actually used (less than 5%):
That’s about a billion dollars, the bulk of which has gone to big ticket projects like the electric grid and getting the oil flowing.
The real shame of this is that we’ve insisted that all this money be spent through normal channels. Needless to say, there are good reasons for maintaining oversight over federal funds, but it’s hard not to think that loosening the normal requirements would have been a good idea for at least a piece of this funding.
Think about it: give or take a bit, we have about 200 battalions in Iraq. Each battalion has four to six companies. Give each company captain $20,000 a week to spend on local projects staffed by Iraqis. Total cost: around a billion dollars a year.
Assuming his math is right, I agree wholeheartedly. We trust these battalion commanders with massive combat strength, enough weaponry to level cities, and most of all, we trust them with our most precious asset- our young men and women.
I think we can trust these guys with some cash.