Iraq Trade Delegation Stuck In The Green Zone

The Washington Post follows up on that trade mission to Iraq I wrote about on Monday. The mission might better called a PR exercise.

The business delegates, the Post says, “were transported from the airport to the U.S. Embassy in armored vehicles and met with Iraqi businessmen and officials inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which has come under intense rocket and mortar fire in recent days.”

Everything in that sentence could’ve been written in 2004.

Indeed, the Bush administration, local-Chamber-of-Commerce-style, began boosting Iraq as an investment destination while the smoke of “shock and awe” still hung in the air, oblivious to the general state of chaos. To wit, this March 2003 photo from the Commerce Department’s Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Task Force:

The caption doesn’t give the exact date, unfortunately, but George W. Bush gave his melodramatic “deadline” to Saddam Hussein on March 17, 2003, so it’s evident that post-invasion plans for delivering basic services to the Iraqi population were well behind plans to facilitate corporate profits.

The Post fills in a few more details on the Obama-era investment push:

Some U.S. businesses are investing in Iraq. Boeing and General Electric have won large contracts here. This week, the technology and manufacturing company Honeywell International opened an office in Baghdad to provide equipment for Iraq’s oil and gas sectors. The company said that it would proceed with caution but plans to expand.

Strange, sad footnote: William Lash, the Commerce Department official in the photo above, shot and killed his son and himself in 2006.