Iraq 101: Down the Drain

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Corruption costs Iraq $4 billion annually. $8.8 billion the U.S. gave the Iraqi government cannot be fully accounted for. More than 20% of the government’s Ministry of Interior staff are “ghost employees”—nonexistent workers who collect paychecks. As much as 30% of Iraq’s refined oil ends up on the black market or is illegally taken out of the country. The U.S. government says the insurgency raises $25 to $100 million a year smuggling oil. $9 billion in oil revenues has been lost, almost as much as Saddam Hussein stole from the U.N. Oil-for-Food program over five years.




With Friends Like These
41 cents of every dollar of American reconstruction money is spent on the Iraqi military or police. 3 cents goes to “democracy building.” A newly recruited Iraqi soldier makes $60 a month. Iraqi units report that half of their soldiers go awol when sent to new combat areas. The Pentagon says it’s trying to instill “a more deployable mindset.” Of the 323,000 members of Iraq’s security forces, 1/3 are considered “technically proficient” and only 10,000 are “politically dependable.” American trainers report that 70% of the police force has been infiltrated by militias. 90,000 rifles and 80,000 pistols supplied to the Iraqi security forces cannot be accounted for.

Coalition of the Dwindling:
When the War’s Supporters at Home and Abroad Got Cold Feet

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Babylonian Captivity
France reportedly paid a total of $25 million three of its kidnapped citizens; Italy paid Germany paid $8 million to free three.

Blood Money: What a Life Is Worth in Iraq
Economists have estimated each life lost in the war to be worth around $6 million. The reality on the ground is much different.

Bill Me Later: What the White House Said the War Would Cost


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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