Saturday, April 05, 2008
Why Is the Power in Iraq so shoddy after 5 years and 3 1/2 Billion American Dollars
Here ya go. Finally, a decent answer. Thank Anne Garrels of NPR.
Moral: Iraqis assume that 150K American soldiers, American money and American know-how can overcome any screwy behavior by 20 million Iraqis in order to accomplish anything it wants in Iraq. Americans presume that too. Turns out, it ain't so...unless the US decides to become Iraq's new dictator. American's are not willing to do that. Honestly, I suspect many Iraqi bloggers (even the most adamantly nationalistic and pan-Arabic) secretly wish it would.
Also, 45 years of dictatorship seriously under-cuts the national pride of a country's citizens.
Here are the details on the reported shoddy power:
- Under Saddam, the Iraqi power-grid was designed to provide power for Baghdad and "to hell with the rest of the country". After Saddam, power is distributed equitably to all Iraqis. See, under Saddam, there were no blogs for people to complain about having no electricity. So things were quieter then.
- Today, some areas are stealing more than their share. Operators are bribed to keep power flowing to certain areas. This is done by certain groups to reward their friends and punish their enemies (just as Saddam used the power grid). Consequently, the system regularly overloads and collapses.
- Criminals steal materials and insurgents routinely blow-up transmission towers.
- Demand has increased 125% since 2003 since Iraqis can buy appliances now.
- The US updated the powerplants with "easily installed" modern combustion turbines to increase power, since Iraq has lots of natural gas to run them efficently. But Iraq never harvested Iraq's natural gas under Saddam. The Oil Ministry is not providing petroleum to run the turbines, "preferring to export it or...steal it."
- Two years ago the US bought 20 huge generators but they are still sitting at the port awaiting red tape and ministerial wrangling.
- A regular rotation of US advisors meant that they often lacked the institutional knowledge and relationships to overcome Iraqi instransegence.