Thursday, July 13, 2006
US Auditors Missed Out On The Fact That We Won The Iraq War: Issue report saying Road to Victory Unclear. Unclear? I heard on Fox that We Won.
(Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)
July 12th, 2006 9:41 am
Road to victory in Iraq 'unclear,' US auditors conclude
By Maxim Kniazkov / AFP
The investigative arm of the US Congress has openly questioned if victory in Iraq can be achieved without a significant overhaul of President George W. Bush's strategy, arguing the outcome of the war was presently "unclear".
The findings by the Government Accountability Office mark the first time a non-partisan US government agency publicly doubted whether the geo-strategic undertaking that Bush made the defining element of his presidency, could be successful.
"It is unclear how the United States will achieve its desired end-state in Iraq given the significant changes in the assumptions underlying the US strategy," the GAO wrote in its report unveiled Tuesday at a hearing in the House of Representatives.
The review focuses on the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq," a glitzy document released by the White House with great fanfare last November.
The strategy charted what was described at the time as a sound course for overcoming the Iraqi insurgency and turning the country in the first true democracy in the Arab world.
Nine months later, congressional investigators found these high hopes were resting on shaky premises that are quickly melting away.
The bedrock foundation of the president's strategy -- a permissive security environment -- "never materialized," said the authors of the report, describing the Iraqi insurgency as "active and increasingly lethal."
The overall number of attacks increased by 23 percent from 2004 to 2005 and rose to the highest ever level of intensity last April, the investigators pointed out.
In the absence of security, the document continued, efforts to rebuild the war-ravaged country or even to return key segments of its economy to their pre-war level have hit a roadblock.
If before the 2003 US-led invasion, crude oil production averaged in Iraq 2.6 million barrels a day, it stood at only two million barrels a day this past March, according to the report.
A combination of insurgent attacks on pipelines, dilapidated infrastructure and poor maintenance have hindered domestic refining and turned Iraq into an importer of liquefied gas, gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel, the document said.
Water and sanitation projects, on which the United States spent about 52 million dollars, were inoperable or operating below capacity.
Investment has been reduced to a trickle. Last year, the report noted, the Iraqi government budgeted approximately five billion dollars for capital expenditures, but managed to spend only a few hundred million.
Generous foreign aid -- another hoped-for component of success in Iraq -- was never delivered in promised amounts.
While foreign donors had pledged about 13.6 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq, only 3.5 billion was actually provided as of last April, the GAO pointed out.
Meanwhile, it will take 30 billion dollars for the Iraqi oil industry to produce five million barrels a day -- and 20 billion to rebuild the electricity sector, the agency estimated.
All of these factors have prompted the GAO to issue a dire forecast: "Security, political, and economic factors will hamper US efforts to stabilize Iraq and achieve key US goals."
The report is certain to add fuel to a growing debate in Congress over the future US course in Iraq, which President Bush says should remain unchanged and Democrats insist is in need of a thorough re-evaluation.
In the meantime, the State Department rejected the congressional findings, saying in its response that the GAO report "rests on a flawed understanding of the strategic architecture guiding United States policy in Iraq."