Iraq is Broke. You Have to Pay for It.

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Iraq is Broke. You Have to Pay for It.

"The golden eagle shown above was paid for by the American taxpayers in 2010 as part of the reconstruction of Iraq. The area where it is shown is now devastated by the current fighting. I took the photo myself." (Photo: Peter Van Buren)

The next time a candidate or reporter asks during a debate about education or healthcare “But how are you going to pay for that?” I would like the person being questioned to respond “The same way we find money to pay for Iraq.”

So maybe it would just be better for Flint, Michigan to claim it is under attack by ISIS instead of just being poisoned because no one has the money to fix America’s infrastructure.

See, each month, Iraq’s government pays out nearly $4 billion in salaries and pensions to the military and a bloated array of corrupt public-sector workers. But with more than 90 percent of government revenue coming from oil, it is bringing in only about half that as crude prices plunge. Some Iraqi officials and analysts say the government might struggle later this year to pay the seven million people on the public payroll, which could trigger mass unrest.

As a sign of the times, Iraqis are facing more nominal charges every day. Hospitals, which have long treated Iraqis free of charge, have introduced fees, for example, even for those visiting sick relatives.

For Iraq, the decline comes in the midst of an already destabilizing war. There are bills for reconstructing flattened cities destroyed for freedom, and assistance for the 3.3 million Iraqis who have been internally displaced over the past two years, with more expected to come.

So — good news, at least for Iraq — the United States is stepping in with U.S. taxpayer money to make sure the country can continue military spending while it seeks international loans.

So, while there is apparently no way anyone can conceive of to pay for fixing America’s infrastructure, making higher education affordable, reducing healthcare costs or any of those other icky socialist thingies, there is money for Iraq!

BONUS: No one really knows how much money the U.S. has already spent in Iraq, but it is way over two trillion dollars.

Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His new book is We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).

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