More and better stories are coming out about the reconstruction.
There seem to be three major potential futures coming out of this:
UN Managed Iraq: This is the route favored by just about everybody outside the administration and the extreme right. We’ve won the war, disarmed and deposed Saddam, now let’s let the UN oversee things. Opposing this approach is the administration which oversees the Pentagon currently handling the war and a State Department which is, at this point, markedly out of the power loop.
Brain Transplant: Saddam is gone and so are the weapons. In order to have a quick transition of power and a clean exit strategy the U.S. and the UN cooperate to rebuild the infrastructure. The government can be run by the old Baathist administration as building a new human infrastructure would be an impossibly daunting task. This gives us a small footprint and gets us out of there quickly without riling up the Islamic community, and world community, more than we have to. This approach is favored by the State Department as a compromise that offers the US more control without really pissing off alot of folks or costing a huge amount of money. It’s largely opposed by the neocons and the Pentagon.
6 Million Dollar Iraq: This approach completely reinvents Iraqi politics and structure by imposing a federalist system and a close to democratic model. The advantages are, in theory, that each major geographic constituency under federalism (Sunni, Shia and Kurd) would have a degree of autonomy to run its own affairs. It would also be the ‘model’ democracy that has been one of the selling points of this ideological war. The downsides include a host of possible complications (including blood feuds, nationalist resistance, occupation rather than liberation) that could play out through this rebuilding process. Arab anger could rage out of control and we could face some major chaos, even beyond neocon expectations, in the region if we sit around Iraq too long. Another interesting complication: privatization of the oil industry. In the UN Administered or Head Transplant models we assume a state run oil industry. As that consolidates the resources in one place it offers the state a strong bargaining position with foreign oil companies. With the 6 Million Dollar Iraq we’d see smaller companies that might well be forced into considerably less advantageous contracts with foreign (re: American) oil companies that foot the bill for rebuilding in trade for ownership of these companies. It would prop up the federalist model on one hand but it would absolutely prove that the U.S. was in it for the oil to any outside observers.
Right now Ret. Gen. Garner and his crew are at a beachside resort in Kuwait with their Gurkha bodyguards making plans. But even they don’t know how all this is going to turn out.
From “Most Britons Back The War But Mistrust How The U.S. Is Waging It” in today’s NYTimes:
Similarly, Bruce Coleman, a retired oil engineer who spent a large part of his career in the Middle East, said the Americans — and particularly President Bush — had failed to recognize the magnitude of their undertaking.
“I don’t think Bush realizes the bottomless pit that these countries can be when it comes to aid and I don’t think the Americans realize what Iraq is,” said Mr. Coleman, 63. “It’s just an enormous desert, and it’s so poor. All you see when you go there is rust and sand and damaged buildings. Putting it right is going to cost billions.”
He likes the Americans, Mr. Coleman said, and feels close to them by virtue of tradition and a long and fruitful friendship. But that does not mean he has much confidence in their current project.
“The Americans, bless their hearts, are fairly parochial,” he said. “They don’t know anything about these countries they’re dealing with.”