- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 28, 2008

SECOND INSURGENCY

Corruption in Iraq is so bad that officials call it the “second insurgency,” a top U.S. diplomat in Baghdad said this week.

Lawrence Benedict, who holds the rank of an ambassador and heads the U.S. Embassy’s anti-corruption office, also warned that a glut of oil revenue flooding Iraq because of soaring energy prices makes the situation worse.

“There’s more money around for people to try to get their hands on,” he told Reuters news agency.

Iraq scored as the world’s third-most corrupt nation, after Burma and Somalia, in a review last year of 180 countries and territories by Transparency International.

“Senior officials in the Iraqi government have characterized corruption as the second insurgency. That’s pretty strong language in a place like this,” Mr. Benedict said.

Corruption is costing the Iraqi government about $18 billion a year, according to congressional testimony last year by Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, former head of Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity.

PAYING A PRICE

Russia will pay a price for its aggression in Georgia, according to the U.S. envoy to the United Nations.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told the Austria Press Agency this week that Russia is becoming more nationalistic and is trying to recapture the power held by the old Soviet Union.

“We need to make it clear to Russia what the price for certain courses of action is,” he said.

Mr. Khalilzad said Russia could play a constructive role in the world but appears to have chosen to intimidate its neighbors if they move too closely to the West.

“We all have concerns about a Russia that asserts its influence and applies force when other means would be available against a democratic country on its border,” he said.

“We accept that Russia has legitimate interests in the world and especially in its neighborhood, but the big question is how one goes about achieving these legitimate interests.”

ELEPHANT DAY

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