|It makes the world go around|
It's a good day when the U.S. government can take an action that makes everybody happy. Here are two examples from today's news.
In Baghdad, the State Department awarded a contract for operations and maintenance of the mega embassy compound. H/T to U.S. Trade and Aid Monitor:
A $348 million contract to maintain the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was awarded this week by the U.S. Department of State to PAE Government Services, which will be tasked with delivering operations and maintenance services for the 104-acre compound. An unspecified portion of that amount will be devoted to providing a residence manager, two cooks, two waiters, and four housekeepers to serve the U.S. ambassador and deputy chief of mission.
People are employed, paychecks are cashed, dinners are served, and maybe the embassy's lawn even gets some grass. What's not to like about all that?
Even better is what happened today in Afghanistan. H/T to Foreign Policy's Passport blog:
U.S. and Pakistani officials signed a memorandum of understanding today, finally reopening supply routes to Afghanistan after a seven month blockade. In a statement to the press, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mozzam Ahmed Khan assured that public that the decision to restore supply lines was made "without any financial benefit."
That may be true for Pakistan, but not everyone is coming out of this empty-handed. The Associated Press reports:
"Stopping these supplies caused us real trouble," a Taliban commander who leads about 60 insurgents in eastern Ghazni province told The Associated Press in an interview. "Earnings dropped down pretty badly. Therefore the rebellion was not as strong as we had planned."
A second Taliban commander who controls several dozen fighters in southern Kandahar province said the money from security companies was a key source of financing for the insurgency, which uses it to pay fighters and buy weapons, ammunition and other supplies.
"We are able to make money in bundles," the commander told the AP by telephone. "Therefore, the NATO supply is very important for us."
The U.S. military estimates that theft, bribery and mismanagement put $360 million in the hands of the Taliban, regional war lords and criminals in 2010 alone -- with more than half that amount pinched from convoys along the supply routes.
Those Talib commanders sound even happier than PAE Government Services. And so they should be, now that their cash flow is positive again and their earnings projections are heading straight up. I don't know what their tax situation is, but even assuming they have to kick some thick percentage upwards, they still probably net more income than PAE's Baghdad program manager.
Congratulations boys, and don't spend it all in one place!