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Iraq's Ghost Army

by Stephen Lendman Tuesday, Dec. 02, 2014 at 7:23 AM


Iraq's Ghost Army

by Stephen Lendman

Reports show tens of billions of dollars in post-war Iraqi aid wasted. A likely 0 billion or more.

Down a black hole. Misused. Stolen. Washington turning a blind eye. Not a single Iraqi official held accountable. Or US one.

Including for establishing a ghost army. Around 50,000 strong. More on this below.

US imperial strategy works this way. Target an easy-to-defeat sovereign independent country. Most often a resource rich one.

Claim it threatens US security. When no threat whatever exists. Fear-monger ad nauseam.

Get media scoundrels to repeat Big Lies. Bury hard truths. Manipulate public opinion.

Convince people war is necessary. For world peace. For humanitarian reasons. To spread democratic values.

Ones America deplores. Tolerates nowhere. At home or abroad. Goes all-out to prevent.

Wage naked aggression. As an alleged last resort. Turn the targeted nation into rubble. Destroy its military. Mass murder millions.

Claim it's a small price to pay. Say nothing about stealing its resources. Exploiting its people. Creating unspeakable human misery.

Institute pro-Western puppet governance. Convenient stooges serving US interests.

Easily replaced if not stooge enough. By forced resignation. Targeted assassination. One puppet succeeding another.

Pour hundreds of billions of dollars down a black hole. Trillions in multiple theaters. Open-ended waste, fraud and abuse. Including for rebuilding destroyed military forces.

Iraq one of many examples. Of US lawlessness. Ruthlessness. Reckless behavior. Destroying the cradle of civilization. Turning it into a dystopian wasteland.

Preventing its ability to function normally. It never recovered from genocidal mass murder and destruction.

Out-of-control violence persists. America bears full responsibility. Obama continues what Bush began. High crimes against peace define his agenda.

After Bush's war of aggression, Washington spent billions of dollars rebuilding Iraqi security forces.

According to a Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) report:

Training Iraqi military forces cost .32 billion. Police and military AWOL rates exceed 3% monthly, said SIGIR.

Meaning increasing amounts spent training new recruits. A never-ending cycle of waste.

Military, logistical and maintenance support cost .6 billion. Building and renovating Iraqi military bases another .1 billion.

Supplying weapons, munitions and related equipment .4 billion. Developing a counterterrorism force minimally 7 million.

Maybe double this amount or more. Precise expenditures aren't known. More US taxpayer money down a black hole. A bottomless one.

Recruiting, training, staffing and equipping Iraqi police around .4 billion. Developing a so-called "Sons of Iraq" program. For around 100,000 Sunni militants. At a cost of 0 million.

Developing various infrastructure security programs another 0 million. Reconstituting Iraqi courts 1 million. Prison construction costing 5 million.

Total cost: around billion. Perhaps much more. Given huge amounts of waste, fraud and abuse. Rampant corruption.

Plus billions of dollars more for Iraq War III. Obama's war. Perhaps continuing for years. Likely another Afghanistan. Forever wars. Without end.

US taxpayers footing the bill. It bears repeating. Their money down a black hole. Imagine what could be done constructively if spent responsibly for homeland needs.

Imagine the good it could do. Rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure. Shoring up vital social programs.

Responsible spending. Improving things at home. Not destroying them abroad.

On December 1, Reuters headlined "Iraq says it found 50,000 'ghost soldiers' on payroll," saying:

They're paid "without showing up for work, a practice which accelerated the military's collapse in the face of Islamic State fighters six months ago."

"The names were uncovered in an investigation launched by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who took office in September, his spokesman Rafid Jaburi said."

So-called ghost soldiers "paid their officers a portion of their salaries and in return did not show up for duty, enriching their commanders and hollowing out the military force."

At a cost of up to a billion dollars a year. Around triple downplayed official estimates.

"Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters last week there was a need for deep-rooted reform of the security forces to fight what he called corruption and mismanagement."

" 'The military has to be cleaned of all these numbers, figures of ghost soldiers and other mismanagement,' he said."

Dozens of former US puppet prime minister Nuri al-Maliki appointed military officials were sacked. Others replacing them. LIkely no different.

According to Abadi, superficial inquiry alone discovered 50,000 ghost soldiers. More thorough inspection might find "wonders and marvels," he said.

He complained about falling oil prices. Requiring major budget cuts. Including military spending.

Post-9/11, Washington spend trillions of dollars on imperial wars. Analyst Linda Bilmes believes Afghan and Iraq wars alone will cost up to trillion.

Including longterm medical care and disability compensation for vets and families.

Over trillion borrowed to finance both wars, said Bilmes. Debt service is huge. Even at low interest rates.

The human and financial cost of US wars is staggering. Trillions of dollars down a black hole. Thrown away to make America safe for war profiteers.

Pentagon operations reflect longstanding unaccountability. A December 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed unaccountable accounting.

Epic mounts wasted. Since 1996 alone, DOD never held responsible for .5 trillion spent.

On September 10, 2001, then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said:

"According to some estimates, we cannot track .3 trillion in transactions." At issue is massive waste, fraud and abuse.

Sweetheart deals, bribes and kickbacks are commonplace. So is routine over-billing.

Blank-check unaccountability is standard practice. Reflecting massive corruption and war-profiteering on the grandest of grand scales.

Standard operational procedure in all US wars. Out-of-control waste, fraud and abuse persist. While vital homeland needs go begging.

Nearly 11 years after Washington invaded Iraq, conditions are worse than ever. In late September, Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire excoriated US policy.

Saying America committed genocide. Killing millions. "On September 11, 2014, (Obama's) speech was chilling," she said.

"Reminding us all just how low morally and intellectually the American administration, and their (so-called) coalition has sunk."

"The Iraqi war…is a classic definition of Genocide." Like Israel's "war against Gaza."

"These past and current foreign policies of military aggression break all international laws, to which the president makes no reference, and will only result in more killings and more hatred of the West."

Escalating "attacks in Iraq and Syria (reflect) a betrayal of all those people in these countries struggling through peaceful and nonviolent ways to solve their problems…"

America is morally and ethically bankrupt. Operating lawlessly. Ruthlessly. Responsible for genocidal mass slaughter.

In multiple war theaters. Nothing in prospect suggests change. Wars without end continue. New ones planned.

War-profiteers never had it so good. Multiple endless wars enrich them.

Mass murder and destruction don't matter. Or human misery. Or  sovereign independent rights.

Or democratic values. Humanitarian ones. Or fundamental rule of law principles. Or high moral and ethical standards.

It bears repeating what other articles stressed. No nation in human history did more harm to more people over a longer duration.

None match America's appalling record. Worse than ever under Obama. World peace hangs by a thread.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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