3 September 2003

Christian Science Monitor | Latest Iraq threat: cash crunch:
The future offers no immediate fiscal relief for the coalition. Iraq's budget for 2004, according an internal document provided by an official in the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA], 'has inadequate funds for security, electrical, water, sewage, irrigation, housing, education, health, [and] agriculture.' For many middle and working-class Iraqis, basic services like electricity, safe highways, and a living wage have disappeared. In frustration, many Iraqis say, some of those struggling people are joining the resistance movements.

Tuesday, as Shiites buried their assassinated senior cleric in Najaf, a bomb went off at the Baghdad police headquarters, in an apparent attempt to assassinate the police chief. One Iraqi police officer was killed; 15 others were wounded.

The bloodshed, including bombings at the UN headquarters and the Jordanian embassy here last month, are keeping investors and even small businesses away. 'If you cannot get money to fix security, electricity, and infrastructure problems, that will prevent small businesses from wanting to come here to start up, and it keeps foreign investment out,' the CPA official explains. 'How can I run a business if I don't have a guarantee of security?'

Already, the terrorism that Washington once accused Iraq of supporting abroad is now plaguing Iraq at home - and grounding what the Bush administration thought would be a solid take-off for the postwar economy.

Now, the UN, nongovernmental organizations, and other major groups like the Red Cross are scaling back their operations in Iraq after the bombing of the UN headquarters, representing a withdrawal of foreign cash and demand for services that would have been pumped into Iraq.

With several tens of billions of dollars more needed, according to Bremer, the US will need its allies to help foot the bill. A donor conference, to that end, will be held near the end of October. But it is already proving difficult to get countries to foot the reconstruction bill for a war that many of them opposed outright.

The cakewalk has not happened. The Iraq adventure is not going to pay for itself. Is there a single neocon prediction about this war that has proved true? Floating Baby Moses has an excellent piece on why this is so.

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