Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, estimates that $8 billion dollars of taxpayer money has been lost in a failed attempt to rebuild in Iraq. Of the $60 billion the U.S. put into the reconstruction, 13 percent was wasted on substandard efforts to rebuild the country. The money was lost to fraudulent and botched operations, many that were not fully carried out. In one case, $40 million dollars was spent on a prison that was never completed.

The Iraqi reconstruction project was the second largest development in U.S. history, only the Afghanistan rebuild was larger.   According to Bowen’s report, the wasteful reconstruction of Iraq has cost U.S. tax payers, on average, $15 million every day from 2003 to 2012. To quantity the effect that American taxpayer’s money could have had on the region, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the U.S.’s Iraq auditor, “$55 billion could have brought great change to Iraq.”

Sara Papantonio is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.