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The G.O.P.: The Party of Fiscal Irresponsibility in Iraq

As The Grauniad reports this morning, George Bush's Republican administration disembursed $12 billion in cash in Iraq in a period of less than 15-months. That's the kind of spending that even Victoria Beckham might be a little embarrassed over. What's more, the Coalition Provisional Authority appears to have learned its book-keeping practices from Colleen McLoughlin.

To quote the C.P.A. financial advisor who was asked what happened to $9 billion that was unaccounted for: "I have no idea. I can't tell you whether or not the money went to the right things or didn't - nor do I actually think it's important."

One of the many lessons of Vietnam that appears to have been forgotten is the enormous damage done to South Vietnamese society, and the war effort against the communists, when the country became awash in U.S. dollars accompanied by slack book-keeping and corruption. Huge amounts of money entered the black economy and ultimately ended up in the hands of the N.L.F., whereupon it was used to buy guns - often from South Vietnamese soldiers; and so the circle went round.

It begs the question how much money has Iran actually had to fork out to arm the insurgents, when bags of $2 million in cash were being doled out like sacks of rice?