April 8th, 2008
01:45 PM ET
13 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)

    Didn't Sen. Clinton say this in a debate over 2 months ago?

    April 8, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Frank

    Can anybody justify why we are entangled in this fashion. It makes no business sense and we are going broke fast.

    April 8, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. TC - South Beach

    We played ourselves! That is the problem with our leaders, all education and no smarts, just educated and nieve. Typical GWB style!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. Kenneth M.

    We broke it-we fix it. They did not ask us to help.

    April 8, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. Darth Vadik, CA

    IT's not the Iraqis it is Halliburton and Blackwater among others that are raking in our taxpayer money...

    ..war profitering, illegal and treasonus.

    They (top Halliburton and Blackwater guys) should at a minimum get life sentences without the possibility of parole in Levenworth.

    April 8, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. Dee

    Our long national nightmare will soon be over!!!

    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Rob Bachorik

    If I were to make a guess where that money is really going it would be the pockets of the filthy bush family and his best buddies. Like dick cheney! By the way, when's dick going to hunting again, maybe the barrels, I mean tables, will change.


    April 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. Ron R

    For the first time in almost 4 months Wolf, you have my respect back!! Well said.

    April 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. Freddy

    I kinda ask myself if people are just blind to see or death to here. Why do we have to stay in Iraq and help people who don't need it. Spend billions of dollars and all they do is buy arms and kill US and other Euopeans Soldiers. We need to get our man and women back home. Let Bush and McCain go and finish what they started without hurting people and spending our money.

    April 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  10. Joe St Louis, MO

    This is why anyone voting republicn is an idiot. MY GOD.

    April 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Rick

    The Iraqi government and the two-bit militia leaders are all playing us for suckers. Why should they do anything for themselves when we're sending hundreds of billions of dollars to them? Why would they want to cut off the money spigot voluntarily? The money we are sending to Iraq is actually a reverse incentive, prompting the militias and the government to NOT make progress.

    Our so-called coalition allies must all be laughing at us too, because nobody else in the world is committing their militaries or their taxpayer money for this boondoggle.

    Bush and his enabler minions (McCain et. al.) can't punish Osama Bin Laden, can't punish Mullah Omar, can't punish Muqtada Al Sadr, but they sure can punish the American taxpayer!

    April 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. cnn rocks

    and yet some people want to vote for john mccain,it really sad that dems are considering voting for johnmccain,we are willing to risk our childrens future bcos of our pride.i pray we come to our senses

    April 8, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Absolutely

    The whole region is playing the US for suckers. Iraqis have us as their own personal police force. Saudis finance terrorist cells, and Hamas, while "allowing" the US to protect them with air cover and forward positioning caches of weapons. IIsrael wouldn't exist without our tunnel-vision support of their policies, which in their own way create chaos and continually-increasing US hatred in the region. Iran, dispite dire warnings from President Bush continues to arm and train insurgents in Iraq. The same with Syria. Afghanistan and Pakistan are basically tribal regions that, like Iraq, require the US "cops" to keep things barely under control.

    Let's hope the next administration has as better sense of international dynamics. Right now the US is both hated and laughed at for our incredible reputation as the international lout.

    April 8, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. Craig

    Wolf, To answer your question; no, the Iraqi's aren't playing us for suckers, weve been suckered by our own politicians for years. The Iraqi's would have to get up pretty early in the morning to get a jump on our politicians, but the do appear to be quick learners.
    Hiram Rapids, Oh.

    April 8, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. Justin in Reno, NV


    You should definitely consider making this a much bigger story rather than just putting it in the blog. I didn't know how much money the Iraqis are making from oil and the fact that they are simply hoarding it rather than helping themselves is ridiculous!

    April 8, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Frank

    We are all suckers to let this continue to happen. Where is the outrage.? Why are we not demanding an end to this insanity? Meanwhile we are destroying the future for our kids.

    April 8, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  17. Daniel, Plattsburgh, NY

    Well, let's be honest about this. Given the security environment in Iraq, reconstruction efforts are almost fruitless to begin with. Far too often, progress is halted or reversed by insurgent attacks or sectarian squabbling. Under those conditions, I'm not sure I blame the Iraqis for not putting their own money into it.

    April 8, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Farren Ballanst


    You hit the nail on the head.

    April 8, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. terry

    Don't forget we saved the 3rd largest oil producing country in the world and we're paying what for a gallon of gas?

    April 8, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  20. Jedi Academy

    Too bad we can't fix the leak in this pipe until January. We're going to have a lot of water to bail out of the whitehouse basement by then.

    April 8, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. Marilyn

    Our useless congress needs to grow a backbone and STOP THE FUNDING OF THIS WAR NOW!! It is obvious Iraqis will not take care of their own country as long as our government is willing to do it for them.

    April 8, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  22. Ramesh Wadfhwani

    Dear Wolf

    I have been watching "Situation Room" And CNN's The best Political team and You and Your Team do a great job of covering Primaries.I love the article you wrote on Iraq.

    Keep up with the excellent work.


    April 8, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. debra

    So when do we send them the bill? Maybe if we did, they would start stepping up and get control of their country. They have no incentive with us paying for everything. they obviously have more money than we do.

    April 8, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Alexa

    please tell me you're kidding!

    April 8, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. Ted R.

    While on the surface this may seem to be a valid point, there must be many behind-the-scene aspects of this that the general public may never find out. Eventually, however, the Iraquis have to learn to stand on their own two feet.

    April 8, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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