Iraq’s efforts to woo international donors aren’t quite going to plan. Its government says that rebuilding the country in the post-ISIS environment will cost up to $100 billion. Thus far, Baghdad has received just a fraction of this amount: $300 million in pledges from the non-governmental sector; despite representatives from 70 countries in attendance. Washington, for its part, is trying to largely outsource reconstruction to the Gulf private sector. The US Secretary of State tried to convince everyone else to dig deep on the not unreasonable grounds that the longer the Iraqi and Syrian people are unable to return to normal life — the faster an ISIS comeback might be. Yet entirely preposterous is the fact that Trump Town will not be splashing any cash at all. Other than a measly $3billion credit line. Though it is dropping an uncool $200 million for neighbouring Syria. Mind you, the $45 billion per year that the Americans have spent on average in Afghanistan hasn’t bought the local citizenry any sort of meaningful security. Not when it is now ‘home’ to an ISIS on the run from Iraq and Syria; much like how Pakistan suddenly became overrun with an Al Qaeda in flight, accompanied by their Taliban hosts when US bombs first rained down across our western border. Nevertheless, it would be easy to dismiss this miserliness as donor fatigue. After all, Washington has spent $60 billion on rebuilding the country since it launched its war of aggression to topple the Saddam regime back in 2003. Though to be unfair, a large chunk of these saw profits remitted to the American homeland as contract after contract was awarded to US companies. In addition, there is the un-small matter of government auditors discovering, a decade later, that at least 10 percent of Washington’s cash was unaccounted for; with billions of dollars being wasted on seemingly unscrupulous contracts. This is to say nothing of the usual mantra that dictates how the Iraqi government must overcome prevailing challenges such as corruption, failing security, internal displacement and political instability. Yet to the Americans, as the occupying power that never left, we say: this all happened on your watch. Therefore, you get to pick up the tab. Along with the Brits. For if these two warmongering nations had not launched their pre-mediated military aggression on the Iraqi people then there would have remained just one butcher of Baghdad; a brutal tyrant to be sure. Meaning that there would have been no Al Qaeda in Iraq. And no ISIS. Thus the even bigger crime, if that is possible, would be if those who set the entire Middle East on fire with their illegal war were to walk away now; fully believing they have done their bit. * Published in Daily Times, February 14th 2018.