August 18, 2011:
Corruption thrives in an atmosphere of confusion. Iraq has plenty of both, as can be seen from a recent Iraqi report to parliament. The army claimed that it had 700 tanks. But all open sources only counted 350 (about half of them American M-1s). Asking Iraqi officers about this elicits a shrug, since no one wants to offend the senior officers who approved the report. Members of parliament simply accept it.
Best explanation is that someone in the Defense Ministry has, as has been rumored, contracting to buy 360 Greek M-60 tanks that are known to be on the second-hand tank market, and there have been reports of Greek Army officials meeting with their Iraqi counterparts. Greece needs the money at the moment, and Iraq has the cash on hand.
This confusion about counting tanks is not unusual for the Iraqi armed forces or Iraq in general. For years, American troops headed for Iraq were briefed on “cultural differences” and warned to be careful not to offend anyone, or get too bent out of shape if you had a difficult time getting a straight answer out of Iraqis. Troops were also counseled on coping with Culture Shock. This is apparently also a problem for different branches of the Iraqi government when dealing with each other.