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)
  1. Darryl

    That because of President Bush and VP trick Dick Chaney. They do not care about the bill they don't have to pay it.

    We need to cut the charity. They are using America to fight there civil war and also to foot the bill.

    Just how stupid are we??

    Just ask George Bush and Chaney?

    April 8, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. Eric

    Can we leave Iraq now, please?

    April 8, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  3. Politically Incorrect

    Look at all you Obama haters taking a random article such as this which is about Bush, the war and "republican politics" and completely change it to voice your hatred and bigotry toward Obama.. Nowhere is his name even mentioned in the article...

    It's pretty funny and while i'm not an avid supporter or Obama Hillary or McCain, I just think it's funny how some of you haters use a forum such as this to hate on a man, that has faaaar less skeletons in his closet compared to 99% of the politicians on Capitol Hill, and yes, that includes (Hillary misspoke Clinton and Ole' Lain Man – McCain)..

    such people are obviously complete biggots and i'm personally sick of it! Atleast have a reason for not liking a person.... and definitely don't make it sooo obvious when it comes to bringing nonsense like that up during a non-related article.. ridiculous

    April 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. Louis

    All the morons who voted for Bush are ultimately the ones to blame. Without Bush and Cheney, this never would have happened. Our children and grandchildren will forever scorn the abhorrent stupidity of this war.

    April 8, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. austin

    i would rather ask the question, why is this a question or concern being brought up by a reporter and not the people in power, the nominees, senators, etc. why are we reading about this on a message board and not on full stream front cnn web page? or on other news networks?

    April 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. E M



    Let's wake up my fellow Americans and get away form the facist corporate rule. After all it's only your grandchildren I'm talking about.... What will they have in the future? How will they live? Think, Do, Vote!

    April 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. debra

    I think Clinton is right in that we must make it clear to them that we are pulling out and they need to start stepping up. The only other thing is to start expecting them to pay us back for the cost of this war. We will never be able to recoop the loss of lives. I know that she voted for the war but so did a lot of senators. None were ever under the impression it would take this long or be misled as to the need for it. Bush should be impeached and his lVP too. Blame the right people. Clinton seems to be having to take the blame for this war and that is totally unfair. Most people did think it was the right thing to do at the time including me, although I would have wished it differently.

    April 8, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Matt S

    Did someone seriously post on here saying Iraq has more money than we do???

    I would like to know where that thought came from?

    April 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Crystal Mitchell

    Now we see where the money is going. This is crazy, we should hold accountable everyone that made the decision to start this war. We are so busy taking care of someone us business, and not our own. We allowed one man, the President to get us in a position that will take years to come out of. Now, so many of us yours included would have never paid much attention to what's going on, if it had not been for Obama, campaigning to get us involved. If nothing us we need to thank him for that.This war has cost millions of American's there homes, education, heath care, just being able to provide a basic way of life. This war is the rich get richer the poor gets poorer. Can we afford to put another Republican in office, McCain is out. We can't foot the bill. This whole thing is on credit, and the Iraqis are getting away scot free.

    April 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Jasmyne

    hell yes they are

    April 8, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Alonzo Demetrius

    Did the fledgling U.S. play France and other countries for suckers when they were helping us establish our new nation? That lasted for several years, as I recall from history lessons.

    What a great (and profitable) experience Iraq will be when it is peaceful and flourishing. There will be a Middle East renaissance which will benefit the entire world. Their history is longer than ours and they have much to offer the world, even Democrats.

    April 8, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. chris from Oregon

    To all of you who say that the Iraqis are playing us for suckers, what in the heck is Bush's responsibility in all of this mess? We started this mess, still stuck in it, still paying for it (as we should), and still raving as loonies blaming everyone under the sun BUT ourselves!!!!

    April 8, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. An Agnostic Democrat

    No, Wolf you tool! It was you and the rest of the MSM who were playing us for suckers and were complicit in getting us into Iraq in the first place by not doing your jobs. You, along with all your inept colleagues, bear some responsibility in your continued lockstep and fear-mongering mentality. If any of you had spent a fraction of the time and energy questioning "W's" decision to go to war that you are now expending on all the minutiae of the Democratic primary race, one can only guess how much better off we all would be. Nice try at the distraction game though. I'm sure you learned well from your girlfriend, Hillary and Co.

    April 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. debra

    It's simple. We need to charge them for us being there- just like they would pay mercenaries. We should get a discount or get the oil free in America as a bonus, they should be paying the families of lost sons and daughters a settlement for the loss of their loved one, and they should be paying settlements to those injured on their behalf. Why are we destroying ourselves to rebuild them?.

    April 8, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. fred

    not really the people running this country looks like suckers , the tax payers look dum. what we should do is make them pay with oil . then there country would put the move on taking over there country

    April 8, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. dave

    The USA SHOULD pay for it. We destroyed everything and killed close to a million people. We are responsible for the costs...

    I think if you were duped into supporting the war at the beginning the money should come from your taxes. So Wolf...get ready to take responsibility for your own stupidity. And the people (Bush/Cheney) who duped so many Americans should be impeached and tried for war crimes in international courts.

    April 8, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Terry in Fl

    The US Government needs to take enough oil from Iraq to pay the cost of this war or pull out now. Why should the American taxpayers suffer when we are protecting Iraqi people? Really stupid of our government to allow terrorists to bankrupt this nation. Why can't our people figure out that terrorists don't have to come here and bomb us when they can just destroy us financially? I agree with being in Iraq to a point. I just don't agree that we the taxpayers should have to pay a dime of the cost. Somebody in our Government needs to make the country of Iraq pay for us being there. Either will oil or cash! Simple as that!

    April 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. William Martin

    This is absurd! We shouldn't have to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq. I know that we do owe the Iraqi people for tearing their courtry apart and destroying it...but I think that they should own up to a lot of the costs considering that they are the main cause of their countries downfall! They want us out, but attack our soldiers so that we are forced to stay.

    Maybe we should just leave and let "God" do with it as he will. If the people kill eachother than so be it.

    April 8, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Ifeanyi Azubike Houston Texas

    Wolfe, We are paying for the reckless damage instigated by Bush. Wouldn't it be a travesty of justice to cause unimagianble damage to the infrastructures, lives and environment of the Iraqis and expect them to fix it themselves. The only person that is responsible for this is BUSH. He conned us into the war and conned us into believing that the Iraqis will clean up after him. My only concern is for the innocent lives that have been unnecessarily factored into Bush's misadventure. I suggest you do what I intend to do if McCain wins. Follow the money by reocating to Iraq.

    April 8, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. RH

    If Iraq pays, they control the contracts.

    April 8, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Jen DFW

    Well we won't know if they can handle it on their own until we leave. Why would they show that when they can use us to do their dirty work. This is just another example why we should withdrawl and bring our troops home.

    April 8, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. Sara

    As I read this article it seems to me that there are some hypocrisies here. Most of the comments I've read are very partisan, but I think we need to sit back and look at the big picture. Does the Iraqi government and its people want us out? Yes. Are they ready to stand on their own two feet? In my opinion, no. Are they playing us for fools? Maybe, in fact, probably. However, we are the ones who engaged in an unjustified war. I know some people disagree with me on that, but thats my opinion. And now we have a responsibility to fix what we broke. If we don't, we'll pay for it later. Unfortunately thats causing financial problems here in the states. But look back to 2002 and ask yourself who is to blame for that? Only ourselves and the post 9/11 induced hysteria. And if you don't like where this war is putting us financially, take some responsibility and vote to put a stop to it. Personally, I can think of many programs where the money can be better spent.

    April 8, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Chris

    LOL why am I not surprised.
    It will not matter who is in Office next year the damage has been done.
    America will be paying for this for a long time. Whether we get out now or later this is your TAX dollars are at work.

    LOL what a bunch of misguided idiots.
    I really hope you all are a bit smarter this time around!!

    April 8, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  24. John, Nebraska

    Waaaaaaa, we are taking their oil!!!

    Waaaaaaa, we aren't taking their oil!!!


    It's all the democrats know how to do.

    April 8, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Lil Trumbull

    I'd like to sue our government for using my money (I understand
    it amounts to about $200.00 per month), to pay for the Iraq
    war. Why does congress keep supplying the money?

    April 8, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
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