Daily archives: April 16, 2007

ACLU Publishes Online Database of Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has, in the last few days, made public hundreds of files on civilians killed or injured by Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ACLU received the records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request it filed in June 2006.

They have created an online database that can be searched to find details of particular incidents and a complete log of the claims can also be browsed.

via LFCM

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Bretton Woods Corruption

I thought I would stun everyone this morning by saying something in partial defence of Paul Wolfowitz.

The big surprise about the current scandal is that the man has a girlfriend. If he used his position to lever pay increases for her, he should resign. Let him pay for his own sex.

This undermines his hypocrisy in launching a drive aganst corruption at the World Bank. The irony is he was actually right about corruption. Corruption in the World Bank is massive. I recall in the 1980’s in Nigeria watching billions of dollars poured into inappropriate agricultural programmes, the whole design of which was intended to be capital intensive, to provide the maximum flows to skim. We estimated that 30% of the money was lost to corruption. And yes, the World Bank staff were up to their neck in it. Things have changed a little since then, but not much.

In Nigeria the problem was a combination of a massively corrupt local political structre, and World Bank staff largely drawn from the corrupt elite of the Indian sub-continent. Add into that mix Western contractors and suppliers willing to pay huge bribes, and their governments willing to turn a blind eye.

All of those aspects of the problem need to be tackled. Wolfowitz was not focusing on the Western elements, of course. But that does not make him wrong about the culture of corruption. It is good the issue was forced, and our own loathing of Wolfowitz should not blind us to the fact that the opposition to him of many World Bank staff is from the worst of motives.

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