This article examines the corruption of political elites in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 American occupation – a phenomenon that has had disastrous consequences for the country as well as astronomical fiscal costs. The corruption that has now become endemic has served not only to undermine reform and reconstruction efforts – while simultaneously accomplishing the embezzlement of billions of dollars – but also has left the Iraqi people exposed to a wide array of harms from contaminated wheat imports to an infrastructure in complete disarray to foreign machinations, including those of international food conglomerates. Through the acquiescence of corrupt Iraqi elites, the country has been laid open to external interests and foreign initiatives as well as those of the World Trade Organization (WTO) through means such as the 100 ‘orders’ signed by US ‘Ambassador’ Paul Bremer III under the auspices of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Graft and kickback schemes of every stripe are rife throughout the country, and monies donated in the form of international assistances have served to line the pockets of the corrupt, never reaching the intended recipients among the average Iraqi population in many instances. The vicious cycle is further perpetuated also through a corrupt judiciary that militates against any sort of meaningful transparency or oversight. Corruption, and that of the powerful elites in particular, has not only squandered genuine development opportunities that might have benefited the country at large and done much good to facilitate reconstruction efforts, but also it has – for the foreseeable future – thrown the issues of Iraqi oil revenues and food security as well as that of national sovereignty into a peril of the first order.

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