Saturday, July 03, 2004

A Damnable Failure

Here's a quote from Reason that makes one wonder what exactly Bremer's CPA managed to accomplish:

The crows have mocked Bremer, and, legitimately, the CPA's poor performance in the past year. Even a conservative critic, Anthony Cordesman, of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, felt compelled recently to send out an email analyzing CPA achievements, "to take a cold, hard look at the actual progress reported by the CPA, as distinguished from the spin…" Cordesman calculated that "out of $18.4 billion in aid, $11 billion has been apportioned, $7.6 billion has been committed, $4.8 billion has been obligated, and all of $333 million has actually been spent." What followed was a damning indictment of the state of affairs in various Iraqi sectors, particularly security, health, electricity production and education.
Call it the Nixon-in-China effect if you will, but I'm much more likely to buy this sort of critique at face value when it comes from the right than when it's from the left; for one thing, it means that one needn't worry quite so much about just how big a role partisan electoral ambition is playing in the choice of facts being given to one.

Now, having gotten that out of the way, I can't see how one can come to any conclusion other than that the CPA hasn't really accomplished much of anything worth a damn, given how little of the aid budget it actually managed to spend in the time in which it was operational. It's stunning to think that barely 41 percent of the aid budget had even been committed by the end of Bremer's tenure. What was going on over there? Was it a case of a large sum being plucked out of thin air for the aid budget, with no definite aim in mind as to what it was to be expended on? If this isn't the case, what excuse can there be for having done so little with the money allocated?