Winning hearts and minds

Here’s the technique. [*] Send your slimiest bottom-feeding Texas hustlers to Iraq. Have them try to scam rich, sophisticated Iraqis by charging them a $7500 per month “participation fee” to join a “consortium” that will supposedly give them access to subcontracts under the reconstruction scheme. Then, when they don’t fall for it, have the hustlers tell them that shows how stupid and primitive they are.

I’m all for spending $87 billion if that’s what it takes to get the job done. But how much of that money is going to be rakeoffs to politically connected U.S. firms and various levels of downstream graft? What would it cost to rebuild Iraq if we let the Iraqis do the job instead of letting Halliburton get rich off it?

(Thanks to Josh Marshall for the link to NPR.)

Update here: A derelict cement plant the contractors wanted $23 million to fix was put back into operation by its Iraqi managers for $10,000. Can you say, “Fraud, waste, and abuse”?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: