Viewpoint: Rebuilding requires knowing history

Rebuilding a war-torn country isn't cheap, but in Iraq it came down to throwing good money after bad because apparently it didn't work.

The U.S. has spent $60 billion in Iraq reconstruction efforts. But in his final report to Congress, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen concluded the U.S. didn't get much for the money.

Bowen told The Associated Press the reconstruction went way beyond what was anticipated and "not enough was accomplished for the size of the funds expended."

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a thorough review of State Department and U.S. foreign aid programs with an eye to any future reconstruction projects:

"We owe this not only to the American taxpayers, but also to the men and women — civilian and uniformed — that we send into dangerous and challenging environments to secure the area and implement U.S. programs."

After World War II, the Marshall Plan helped Europe rebuild and U.S. efforts helped Japan to become a world power with a thriving economy. Complicating recovery efforts in Iraq is the to-the-death power struggle between opposing religious factions.

Meanwhile, the United States has spent $90 billion on reconstruction projects during the 12-year war in Afghanistan.

With years of reconstruction ahead there, U.S. leaders should refer to the Iraq report for lessons to be learned to make sure the use of American taxpayer money there is used wisely and is worth the expense.

— Albuquerque Journal

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