This week's news of a report by the Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction raised some eyebrows and maybe some hackles among the taxpaying American public before falling down the memory hole. The numbers will soon be forgotten: At least $8 billion of the more than $60 billion spent on Iraq reconstruction over a nine-year period was wasted, according to Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen, Jr.
Few adults could be surprised at that, since it is such an old and oft-repeated story. No doubt some will retain a vague memory of something about bad planning, inadequate oversight, and the old bugaboo, "fraud, waste, and abuse." Chances are many Americans shook their heads and wondered: Can't our government do anything right?
But the effort to do something right begs what should be the prior question of whether the "something" our government is attempting to do should be done by the government at all. That is precisely where we generally find conservatives in America sitting on both sides of the fence. They are opposed to "big government" programs aimed at rebuilding the infrastructure and revitalizing the economy here at home. But they appear quite content to lavish billions of dollars on a foreign government's attempt to do the same thing. They rail against ObamaCare's "one size fits all" approach to healthcare, but seem convinced that Western-style "democracy" is the paradigm for nations everywhere, and most definitely in the Middle East, where people have no experience of it and few show a desire for it. It is as alien to their traditions and culture as Sharia law is to ours.
Our domestic conservatives denounce bureaucratic dictates from distant Washington and say the government that works best is the one closest to the people. Then they attempt to govern people of a different culture, half a world away. They denounce military aggression, but embrace a doctrine of preventive war.
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