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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Mr Bremer asks the $10 Billion dollar question (from The Independent):

'''the US may get the same answer it is getting from foreign governments to its requests for soldiers to serve in occupation forces: not unless the United Nations is given a say in running Iraq. Mr Bremer is sticking to the US line, however. "What ... makes things better if the UN is in charge of reconstruction?" he asked.'

Here's our answer to that question:

1.) Accountability. Right now, the U.S. is seeking all sorts of exceptions for itself in how it conducts its business around the world. Exclusion from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, exemptions from various laws for compaines operating in Iraq, etc. On the flip side, U.S. companies are having a field day arranging for themselves multi-billion dollar reconstruction contracts. Bremer, in the same article, says that the reconstruction of Iraq will cost tens of billions of dollars. As it stands, those billions will go to Kellog Brown & Root (which includes Halliburton. Many of those contracts are no-bid), MCI-Worldcom, and a host of subsidiaries and other U.S. compaines. The result? Yet another massive redistribution of wealth from American taxpayers (and world citizens) to U.S. mega corporations. Neato, eh? Makes me want to start an oil field services company myself.

An international recostruction effort could, at least, distribute the contracts fairly. The process will by no means be entirely fair -- everyone wants money and lots of companies in other countries are willing to pull whatever political strings are available to get it. Nevertheless, at least bidding for many contracts would be open to others, and the forces keeping the peace in Iraq would be accountable to the U.N. and the International Criminal Court. That makes it somewhat less likely that they'll pose a threat to Iraqi civilians.

2.) International support. When it comes to opening wallets on an international level, the Bush administration has been very bad at making it happen. While the U.S. has a huge economy, its resources aren't limitless and lots of money will be required if we are to take Bremer's estimates as accurate. Many countries are willing to support a U.N. led effort because _they_ see benifits to doing that. Other nations are threatened by an unstable Iraq, so it is in their interest to have a say in its reconstruction. Besides, there is a concept that could be put to good use by the Bush administration if they take advantage of this opportunity -- the more other countries become involved in Iraq, the more committed they'll be to seeing a positive outcome, and the load on the U.S. in terms of military power and financial resources will decrease.

more to come tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Andrew 6:34 PM : |


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