Paul Van Buren deconstructs reconstruction in Iraq. But this also applies to a great many development projects. Development, or reconstruction, isn’t sexy. It isn’t the shiny fixtures of modernity. It’s a working sewer. Its being able to flip on a light. Its hidden and expensive infrastructure that no media wants to visit. AND THIS IS HOW IT SHOULD BE. But the propaganda needs of a highly unpopular war make for other kinds of priorities. On a chicken plant that processed no birds:
We weren’t stupid, mind you. In fact, we all felt smart and clever enough to learn to look the other way. The chicken plant was a funny story at first, a kind of insider’s joke you all think you know the punch line to. Hey, we wasted some money, but $2.2 million was a small amount in a war whose costs will someday be toted up in the trillions. Really, at the end of the day, what was the harm?
And Van Buren tells us. The harm came to the dignity and health of millions of Iraqi citizens.