Iraq’s Hour of Reckoning

Misuse of power and corruption in Iraq are back in the spotlight. US federal authorities probing the $125 billion fund, meant for Iraq’s reconstruction in 2003, have broadened their inquiry to include senior military officers.

A report in the New York Times says that investigators subpoenaed several officers, who are now retired, and found huge funds stashed away in their accounts. Such misappropriation and corruption by individuals who abused their mandate of governing and rebuilding Iraq have long stopped shocking the people of Iraq or the Middle East. Nonetheless, it is important to bring everyone responsible for this shocking abuse of power to book and dispense exemplary punishment.

The US authorities are taking a fresh look at information given by an American arms dealer and contractor, killed in Iraq in late 2004. The spotlight primarily falls on Colonel Anthony Bell of the US Army and Lt. Col Ronald Hirtle of the Air Force — both officers who oversaw the reconstruction process in the early days of occupation under President George W. Bush. However, both say they have nothing to hide and deny any wrongdoing. But officials believe criminal cases indicate corruption was rife in the operations the two helped oversee.

It goes without saying that misappropriation of funds, in such high-profile cases, is often part of networking and embraces a wider array of suspects in high places. Iraq’s Oil-for-Food deal is another such example, whereby even the kith-and-kin of who’s who were found wheeling and dealing at the behest of their patrons in the United Nations. Iraq is a perfect case of neo-colonialism and gunboat diplomacy, where a country was invaded and ruined on flimsy charges. Misappropriation of Iraqi’s resources is only a part of the greater abuse the country suffered at every level. Coupled with the killing of around one million people, the war has plunged the entire region into chaos and instability.

It is a welcome move, therefore, that the current inquiry is seeking to go after big fish. A successful probe into bribery, kickbacks and fraud, as well as unearthing of contracts to fake companies, will help the Barack Obama administration regain the confidence of not only the people of Iraq but the world at large. It’s Iraq’s hour of reckoning. Well, almost!

More news from OPINION
KT Long Read: Watch this space


KT Long Read: Watch this space

Major disruptions in the global space industry, including in India that recently liberalised the sector, are heralding an emergence of a whole new world: ramifications will be wide-ranging, high-yielding — and ultimately benefit humanity

Opinion1 week ago