The good news is that President Bush has renewed his commitment to the Millennium goals, as Johanna Mendelson-Forman writes in oD today. “We are committed to the Millennium Development Goals… To a new vision for the way we fight poverty and curb corruption” as the president told the UN World Summit last week.
Which makes me eager to hear what his plans are for dealing with what Ali Allawi, Iraq’s finance minister, described to Britain’s Independent newspaper as “possibly one of the largest thefts in history.”
He was talking about the scandal of the missing US$1billion, a sum that has vanished from Iraq’s defence budget with nothing to show for it on in the ground. Iraq’s troops are left, as Patrick Cockburn puts it, “to fight a savage insurgency with museum piece weapons.”
This is only the latest in a run of missing millions stories. (see, for instance,Ed Harriman in the London Review of Books) From the tens of thousands in cash handed our under Bremer’s administration, with no receipts or record, to the no-bid contracts handed over to friends of the US administration, to the accounting details that reveal half of the money for civilian projects in Iraq goes on security and insurance, Iraq has been a scandalous money drain that has left Iraqi civilians knee deep in sewage, their schools and hospitals still not functioning, their armed forces hopelessly ill equipped and their own lives on the line every day. Meanwhile, someone is growing very rich indeed on the profits to be made from donor taxpayers. Who could that be? According to Patrick Cockburn:
“The Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit says in a report to the Iraqi government that US-appointed Iraqi officials in the defence ministry allegedly presided over these dubious transactions.
Senior Iraqis now say they cannot understand how, if this is so, the disappearance of almost all the military procurement budget could have passed unnoticed by the US military and civilian advisers.”
So let us all get behind President Bush in his anti-corruption drive, beginning with occupied Iraq. Watch this space