More about why we suck at nation-building

On Friday I wrote that we are uniquely sucky at nation building and development planning, yet believe that we're numero uno.

To recap:


… our foreign policy elites don't hold such activities in high esteem … we distrust the institutions that have the expertise -- the UN and others -- and [we] are unwilling to cede them the authority to do the job right. We suck at nation-building because we privilege our neoliberal economics over the best development practices, because we favor big, grandiose and expensive projects over smaller, local development and use well-connected multinationals ahead of local firms, because we put reconstruction activities under the management of Republican political hacks without an ounce of experience and, most of all, because we tend to tell the locals what they need, not listen to what they say they need. There is virtually no local ownership of U.S. projects in post-war Iraq and Afghanistan, so they are destined to fail to one degree or another sooner or later.
Later that evening, I stumbled across this bit in The Peninsula, Qatar's leading English-language daily (I'm sure you read it regularly):
The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said yesterday that US officials had been arrogant and made many mistakes during efforts to rebuild Iraq after the 2003 invasion. "It's important to recognize that mistakes have been made over the last few years. There have been times when US officials have behaved arrogantly and were not receptive to advice from local leaders," he told Iraqi officials.
Remember, Khalilzad is a big-time neocon and war supporter.

Also on Friday, the good folks at Corpwatch released a new report, "Afghanistan, Inc." Highlights:
Massive open-ended contracts have been granted without competitive bidding or with limited competition to many of the same politically connected corporations which are doing similar work in Iraq: Kellogg, Brown & Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton ), DynCorp, Blackwater, The Louis Berger Group, The Rendon Group and many more. Engineers, consultants, and mercenaries make as much as $1,000 a day, while the Afghans they employ make $5 per day.
These companies are pocketing millions, and leaving behind a people increasingly frustrated and angry with the results.
Instead of reprimanding these contractors for their poor work, USAID announced a new contract totalling $1.4 billion awarded to the joint venture of The Louis Berger Group, Inc. and Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. on September 22.
If The Louis Berger Group sounds familiar, it's probably because of this a WaPo article last year:

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