April 8th, 2008
01:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Blitzer: Iraqis playing U.S. taxpayers for 'suckers'?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/16/art.blitzeriowa.cnn.jpg caption=" The Bush administration had predicted Iraqi oil exports would finance reconstruction of the country."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Just before and immediately after the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq, Bush administration officials optimistically predicted that Iraqi oil exports would soon finance the reconstruction of the country. That didn’t happen. U.S. taxpayers were stuck with the literally tens of billions of dollars in bills.

Now, five years later and with the price of oil reaching more than $100 a barrel, Iraqi oil exports are generating huge sums - $56.4 billion this year alone, according to the Government Accountability Office. Senator Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says Iraq now has tens of billions of dollars in surplus funds in their banks and in other accounts around the world, including about $30 billion in U.S. banks right now.

But Levin notes that the Iraqis by and large are still not using their money to build new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. Why should they? Uncle Sam is still doing that for them.

“The result is that far from financing its own reconstruction, as the administration promised five years ago, the Iraqi government has left the U.S. to make most of the capital expenditures needed to provide essential services and improve the quality of life of the Iraqi citizens,” Levin said in his opening remarks before the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. “As of last Thursday,” Levin added, “the United States is paying the salaries of almost 100,000 Iraqis who are working on reconstruction.”

At a time of economic distress in the United States, including fears of recession, home foreclosures, job losses, infrastructure strains, and health care worries, U.S. lawmakers publicly are asking why the Iraqis themselves can’t pick up the tab for their own reconstruction. Privately, several of them are going one step further - asking whether they Iraqis actually are playing the U.S. taxpayers for suckers.

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. Andy Wilson NY Voting Expat in Dom Rep

    Why not? We got rid of the bully in the room (Saddam), but we also desicrated their cultures and religions and set civil society and infrastructure back 50 years. Why not take advantage of the even bigger bully who failed to find common cause to fight this fight in the first place?

    April 8, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Janesville, WI

    At $9,000,000,000,000 (Trillion) in debt, Americal literally faces collapse if this war continues. Consider that Osama Bin Laden once said that he would bring down America, not by military force but by.....economic ruin.... and George Bush, Sen. McCain and 50% of America are falling right into Bin Laden's trap!!

    April 8, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Tim

    "Well put!!! The questions is Wolf, are you going to take responsibility for supporting the need for this war? Probaly not! You and your comrades and colleauges mis informed the American public when they counted on you for balanaced reporting instead of the parroting you did before the invasion and occupation."


    Someone gets it. And that person is Terry from VA!

    My thoughts exactly Terry.

    April 8, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  4. WhosehadEnough

    Mr. Blitzer....we would not be there if the media didn't follow lockstep with the administration with the runnup to the war.......This surge logic is totally warped .......Republicans were voted out of Congress in November 2006 for the handling of the Iraq War.....so what does President Bush and the Pentagon do.....a troop surge to squelch the violence!! Now the General is recommending a delay in troop reductions with the increased violence....WHY DOESN"T HE RECOMMEND ANOTHER TROOP SURGE?!!........Bring back Admiral Mullin!

    April 8, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  5. DJ in TX

    For all the people who are saying we should be paying since we broke it. Listen to what the report is saying. The Bush administration stated, that Iraqi oil exports would be funding some of the reconstruction. The Iraqi's are stockpiling (even has 30 billion in US banks drawing interest) the oil money, while we foot the bill. Hmmm, sounds like "welfare" to me. Do nothing, but expect the Government to do it for me.

    To Adam in Indy – What does this have to do with Senator Obama? He's (nor any candidate) not mentioned in this article. Please comment on what was stated in the Article.

    April 8, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Colleen

    It is amazing how this story seems so strangely close to the documentary "Loose Change". It seems support the theory that Bush started this war for oil, more money, and power. If Iraq has billions in revenue then Americans should in no way be paying over $3 a gallon at the pump. I wonder why we can't seem to get a clear answer from the GOP on this issue. It seems that all reasonable actions get clouded with rhetoric like, "It's hard and complicated". So are the budgets of Americans families but we make decisions the best that we can even with our hands and feet tied by this administration and its ridiculous war! Here's a suggestion: Every billion of Iraqi revenue = a bilion returned to American taxpayers, every trained iraqi batallion = a batallion returned home to America. We attempt this until all our troops are home and we are paid back for our investment and if a problem develops and we have to take military action we do so along side or iraqis soldiers. This way our troops can begin to come home and be replenished in the event of uncertainties in our future. The Bush administration is saying we can't bring our troops home because of violence that may erupt. Violence has not stopped erupting but according to the Bush administration we are making progress. Well how come we can't continue that so called progress with iraqi troops on the front line soldier for soldier until they are defending their own country for themselves. We need to take a back seat and no one has given a good enough reason why we shouldn't begin to bring our troops home.

    April 8, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Reg

    If the Iraq "government" repaid the American taxpayer, we could all get a $130,000 simulus check. It would solve the economic crises and get more dollars back in the US where they belong. We don't owe them a 21st century Marshall plan when we can't rebuild our own nation.

    April 8, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. nkc46

    the attitudes expressed here are exactly why no candidate can rescue americas reputation. To criticise the iraqi's for not paying for the reconstruction is ludicrous. The coalition of the willing intervened in another nations affairs without the consent of the international community. It wasn't solely the bush administration but your democratically elected congress. your representatives, your senators, your media and the military you paid for. Why should iraqi's pay to rebuild a bridge destroyed by american taxpayers.
    The freedom you boast of to choose your leaders makes you the envy of most of the world so don't put this all on bush.it was YOU that elected him.take some responsibility or your credibility will sink lower and lower.
    obama can't fix this. all candidates are more of the same and american foreign policy will continue to try to impose its will on the world with military force

    April 8, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  9. Kevin

    Can we put the US military war accountants and the Iraqi oil accountants in the same room?

    April 8, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  10. Craig from Rockford. Illinois

    The Iraqi government playing the U.S. for suckers? They'd never do anything so crude. Ask Chalabi.

    April 8, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  11. Tim

    WOW! I wondered where all the uneducated liberals went. Guess I found them. Shortsighted, isolationist policies??? How many of you want to vote for Ron Paul, cause your demo nominees are not going to do any better. If you will remember it is the failed policies of the first (and hopefully only) Clinton in the White House that lead to this problem in the first place.

    April 8, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  12. Charm

    The US basically destroyed the Iraqi infrastructure and in my opinion, we have a moral obligation to get this country back on track. I don't possibly see how they can even begin to rebuild on their own until the day comes when Iraqi workers don't have to worry about being blown to bits or abducted, tortured and murdered on their way to work. The Iraqi's aren't playing Americans for suckers. The American's who put our bone head President in office in the first played us for suckers.

    April 8, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  13. elle

    For those of you that seem to think Iraq promised to pay for the cost of the war, what planet do you come from?

    It was the US government that suggested it would get Iraq to pay for the war.... but as others have said, "if you break it, you have bought it".

    The simple fact is that attacking Iraq was the biggest blunder the USA has made in foreign policy in decades. You gave a gift to your enemies and made your friends question your sanity. What is sad is that most Americans supported the war. What is even sadder is that there are many Americans that understand how to fight terrorism and they were warning that attacking Iraq would be a major boost to the radical islamic elements.

    The only real change that happened after 911 is that America faced up to what most of the world has had to deal with, terrorism! Its a fight that calls for police work and smarts, not just brute force.

    April 8, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. henrie alabama


    April 8, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. Justin from Louisville, KY.

    Iraq needs to pay a considerable amount of their reconstruction costs, more than half atleast, but we as Americans need to face the facts. We invaded them! We gave power to the Bush Administration, which made the decision to invade. Yes, the Republican Bush Administration is the biggest mistake in the history of this country, but we gave them the power to make those decisions. It's our mistake, and should be responsible for our actions. Hopefully Conservative Americans can put aside their ignorance in November to put someone in office that can keep this country from making quick, blindless decisions.

    April 8, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  16. Michael, Canada

    omg!!! You blow up the country then blame the Iraqis? YOU destroyed their country!!! Americans SHOULD pay for the recvontruction. Not one dime should come from the Iraqi people. I find it totally sickening you would blame the Iraqis when it was Americans that destroyed it.

    April 8, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  17. YL

    Uh... before everybody gets too mad, one should know that US also bombs Iraq here and there for Islamic extremists. So, part of the responsibility lies on US. But, again a line should be drawn too, enough is enough...

    April 8, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Cynthia, Laguna Niguel, CA

    That is why we need Mrs. Clinton in the White house. She will start bringing back our troups.!!!!!

    Clinton -08!!!!

    April 8, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  19. Bill B

    We keep hearing of the barrels of Iraqi oil being pumped. So, where is the money? Yes, not only the Iraqi Government, but those involved in the oil contracts and deals are screwing the US and the American people. President Bush has been chasing the Congress to send bills and bills of US tax dollars to Iraq. He must surely know where the Iraqi Oil money is, and is helping his oil buddies scam this nation.

    April 8, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  20. merle 7

    There should be riots in the streets. Americans needs to storm the white house and drag Bush out in the streets. But hopefully we will restrain ourselves,and remember to vote democratic this Nov,and hope never to see another republican president ever!

    Obama 08/ Dems for the white house!

    April 8, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  21. ben

    cnn rocks
    You are right! In Mexico I have been asked many times why are you Americans always invading and killing people? My answer is, what can we Americans do? we have no voice in what our government does. The
    vast majority of us are against the war. We are against the continuing of the war, and the government ignores us completely

    April 8, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  22. FB

    Every day they wake up, these people are worried about their wives and husbands disappearing, their sons and daughters being killed and mutilated, and you are saying they owe us? What is wrong with you people?

    Why should the Iraqi people pay for what the American government did? Our government kick down the door uninvited, trashed the place and now we want the Iraqis to pay us? We are not owed a darn thing! We started a freaking War over there!

    This article plays us for suckers. "Iraqis playing U.S. taxpayers for 'suckers'?" is a leading question that makes us believe that we're being tricked by the Iraqis and they owe us something. Bush tricked us into a war that should have never happened. Now Iraq is in a state of war that has no end in sight, yet some of you believe we are owed something? Don't complain about the Iraqis, complain about your own government!

    When there might be a bomb or two waiting for you just around the corner, I'm sure the last thing in your mind is "playing the U.S. taxpayers for suckers"

    April 8, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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