Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Bechtel and the Iraqi school system

With all the dead bodies, and the absence of gas and electricity, and the looting and the crime, the Americans have made much of the supposedly wonderful job they have done in restoring the Iraqi school system. Leaving aside the fact that the Iraqi school system needed restoring largely because of the American sanctions and the American bombs, not to mention the looting which took place because the Americans failed in their obligations under international law to keep the peace, it should not be surprising that the story told by the Americans about the Iraqi school system is another big lie. Bechtel got $1.03 billion to work on the school system, which is, needless to say, the real point of the exercise. They then subcontracted the work to shoddy Iraqi subcontractors, presumably in order to keep as much of the $1.03 billion as possible, and the subcontractors did lousy work. Bechtel never checked the work or even appeared at the school sites. American soldiers occasionally turn up at the schools to ask perfunctory questions of what they can do to help, but the schools never receive any of the requested help. Khadija Ali Medshwal of the Naguib Pasha Primary School in Baghdad said:

"I hate it when they turn up unannounced. The first time they came here, they went from classroom to classroom with guns dangling over their shoulders, asking the terrified children whom they loved more, Saddam Hussein or George Bush."