Did US Road-Building in Iraq lead to more Violence?

From The Economist.

Did American road-building in Iraq lead to more violence?

Drivers called it the “highway through hell”. Attacks on the road linking Baghdad to Amman occurred so often in 2014 that truckers were paid three times the normal rate to haul goods along the artery. Gangs and militias were a constant threat.

The jihadists of Islamic State set up roadblocks, charged drivers a tax of around $300 and even handed out receipts. The road, officially called Highway 10, was recently secured by the Iraqi army. But those who drive on it still face the threat of extortion or attack.

America spent loads improving Highway 10 after 2003, the year it toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s former dictator. Over the next decade, as the war in Iraq dragged on, America spent nearly $12bn on infrastructure in the country.

President George Bush touted the improved roads, hoping they would boost the local economy and lead to a reduction in violence. But a working paper presented at this year’s meeting of the European Economics Association suggests that the effort may have had the opposite effect.

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