U.S. audit finds 'lost potential' in Iraq

March 6, 2013 at 11:57 AM

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- The Iraqi government and its people "lament the lost potential" promised by billions of dollars of U.S. financial support, an inspector general report said.

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen issued his final report to Congress. He said that despite a 10-year engagement that cost the United States $60 billion, Iraqi leaders said they were uncertain if the effort was worth the expense.

"The Iraqis, the recipients of the United States' extraordinary reconstruction largesse, largely lament the lost potential that the massive amounts of U.S. aid promised," writes Bowen.

Political disputes erupted in Iraq almost as soon as U.S. forces pulled out of the country in December 2011. Al-Qaida attacks are common and frustration with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has emerged in Anbar province, once the seat of the insurgency.

Bowen's report highlights the financial loss from programs that started but were never completed. Others, he said, were mired in kickbacks and other sources of corruption.

Officials from both countries said the United States took on too many large projects and often didn't consult with Baghdad sufficiently regarding which projects were needed and how best to complete them.

"This lesson suggests a solution to a problem recognized by virtually everyone possessing at least a passing familiarity with the Iraq program," Bowen's report stated. "The current system for managing state reconstruction operations is inadequate."

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