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Rebecca Gordon: Corruption U.S.A.
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I recently took a little trip into the past and deep into America’s distant war zones to write a piece I called “It’s a $cam.” It was, for me, an eye-opening journey into those long-gone years of American “nation-building” and “reconstruction” in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mind you, I still remembered some of what had been reported at the time like the “urine-soaked” police academy built in Baghdad by an American private contractor with taxpayer dollars. But it was the cumulative effect of it all that now struck me — one damning report after another that made it clear Washington was incapable of building or rebuilding anything whatsoever. There were all those poorly constructed or unfinished military barracks, police stations, and outposts for the new national security forces the U.S. military was so eagerly “standing up” in both countries. There were the unfinished or miserably constructed schools, training centers, and “roads to nowhere.” There were those local militaries and police forces whose ranks were heavily populated by “ghost soldiers.” There was that shiny new U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan that cost $25 million and no one wanted or would ever use. It was, in short, a litany of fiascoes and disasters that never seemed to end.

Financially, Washington had invested sums in both countries that far exceeded the Marshall Plan, which so successfully put Western Europe back on its feet after World War II. Yet Iraq and Afghanistan were left on their knees amid a carnival of corruption and misspent taxpayer money. What made revisiting this spectacle so stunning wasn’t just the inability of the U.S. military, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and a crew of crony warrior corporations raking in the big bucks to do anything right, but that this was the United States of America. It was the country I — and I was hardly alone in this — had grown up thinking of as the globe’s master builder. In the 1950s and early 1960s, my childhood years, it seemed as if there was nothing Americans couldn’t build successfully from an unparalleled highway system to rockets that were moonward bound.

Half a century later, it’s clear that, at least in our war zones, there’s nothing we’ve been capable of building right, no matter the dollars available. And that, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon suggests today in an eye-opening piece, is just the beginning of our new American reality.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Corruption 
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  1. Jim says:

    Nothing remotely like the America of the 1950’s or 1960’s exists anymore.

  2. The Grate Deign [AKA "Fake Name"] says:

    Washington’s mistaken was in believing its own multi-culti crap. An Islamic culture cannot be civilized on Western terms. As one internet sage puts it, religion forms culture, and culture trumps politics.

    Even so.

    • Replies: @OutWest
  3. OutWest says:
    @The Grate Deign

    But isn’t the problem more with the US culture, or lack thereof? Back when we could do things we had a driving culture. Now we’re a salad bowl culture comprising a mixture of the cultures people fled but maintained when they came to the US.

  4. ”””’ and a crew of crony warrior corporations raking in the big bucks to do anything right””””””’

    the major player got 20 billion the first 4 years and built up more shit than you can count including all the bases research who those people were rednecks you know the people who are hated by people who think they are so intelligent
    the ones that the us is activly trying to kill off the ones that actually get things done quickly and efficiently so efficiently they had to be removed after task completion and sent somewhere else to make things actually happen

    the marshall plan adjusted was 120 billion for 4 years

    ””””’one damning report after another ”””””

    yea and they didn’t delve any deeper than yours does into why and who built what or what type of contract it was
    was it a no bid minority company
    was it a compeditive bid
    there are many facets and the real blame never gets placed just urine thrown everywhere it would seem or sensationalism
    kind of like us reporters talking about the electrical was so bad in iraq with people being electrocuted but if ya did the math it was safer than the us
    check that one and get back with me i almost died trying to insure my people safety during that time working myself to death to insure it was safe and come to find out another reporter was just full of again urine

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