60bn pounds to rebuild Iraq (Scotland on Sunday, Sun 30 Mar 2003): THE United States has drawn up a £60bn blueprint for the post-war reconstruction of Iraq which completely freezes out the United Nations and gives all contracts to American firms, Scotland on Sunday can reveal. The emergence of the hugely detailed and controversial plan will place enormous strain on the relationship between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, who remains determined that the UN should have a key role in rebuilding Iraq. Despite that, US firms will this week win a clean sweep of contracts to reconstruct the health, education, transport and political systems of Iraq.
The US State Department scheme will see private companies build a national health service, design a network of airports, and draw up a "politically-neutral" school curriculum, all without the involvement of the UN. The programme - which will be finalised in the next few days - will cause deep dismay among European ministers, who wanted the award of contracts to be handled by the UN to ensure fairness and avoid the impression of American colonialism.
Of course, the administration isn't in the least interested in fairness (witness Haliburton receiving the first contract), and wouldn't understand the colonialism argument if you hit them over the head with it repeatedly ... as people have been doing recently.
To be sure, it's been clear since the war actually started that the intent of the administration was to freeze out the UN in all meaningful ways. Considering their opinion of the UN at the moment, it's not at all surprising. But you can feel sorry for Blair, who is paying an extraordinarily high price to be the US' friend. His backbenchers will shred him over this, and Bush has given him absolutely no political cover whatsoever.
Last night, Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, issued a veiled warning to the US administration. Hewitt, who will next month meet British business leaders to discuss their potential role in rebuilding Iraq, insisted that there must be "a level playing field" for UK firms to bid for rehabilitation work.
Or else ... what? It's rather late in the game for Britain to decide to take its toys and go home. About the only arrow left in their quiver is to decide that when the worst of the fighting is over, they'll take their soldiers away from any peacekeeping efforts. And how much is that likely to bother this administration?Posted by iain at March 30, 2003 01:04 AM
Well, the UN could have been part of the process. As I recall, it opted out, mostly at the instigation of France, and, to a lesser extent, Germany.
LamontPosted by Lamont Cranston at April 2, 2003 03:56 PM