October 28, 2003
MADRID DONORS CONFERENCE 'AN ENCOURAGING START'
** Commentators view the
Madrid Donors Conference as a "qualified success."
** Even anti-war papers
declare that helping the Iraqi people is "a moral imperative."
"miserliness" is defended as understandable, criticized as
** Suspicions will remain
as long as the U.S. retains effective control over reconstruction.
U.S. 'did better than expected'-- Recognizing that the Oct. 23-24 Madrid donors
conference was "only the first step in a long path full of
difficulties," papers in Europe and Asia termed it "a qualified
success" that produced "better than normal" returns. While "the total figure will fall far
short" of estimated needs, Britain's conservative Times argued that
"sufficient funds have been pledged for initial rebuilding," adding
that private investment will follow with improved security. Pakistan's independent Din called the
result "a start" and noted "participants demonstrated more
generosity and interest than expected."
'Everyone has an interest' in a stable,
democratic Iraq-- Some writers held that
obtaining aid "will be difficult" as long as Iraq remains
"occupied without a UN mandate."
A number of dailies, including those that had opposed the war, stated
the conflict "created a new reality" leaving "no alternative to
a U.S. occupation" and the way to end it quickly was by donating. "That Norway and the rest of the world
are picking up part of the bill" for reconstruction, said the independent Dagbladet,
"is a recognition that the stabilization of Iraq is important for the
whole of the Middle East." A Dutch
editorial agreed that countries that opposed the war "cannot stay on the
sidelines" now because of the "enormous importance" of
The Paris-Berlin-Moscow 'Troika' needs to take the long
view-- The European press noted
the "clear sign of disregard" shown by France, Germany and Russia in
sending lower-ranking officials to Madrid.
France's left-of-center Liberation--while itself supporting aid
to Iraq as "a moral imperative"--explained that "the lack of
generosity in Madrid can be explained by Bush's desire to retain control over
Iraq's transition." Czech and
Canadian dailies criticized that attitude as "short-sighted," while
Denmark's center-right Berlingske Tidende called on the
"Troika" to "change their policies on this issue
immediately." The people of Iraq
were suffering because of their "on-going political game."
Many argue stabilization will lag while America "effectively
controls" Iraq-- Analysts judged that
"transparency is essential for money to start arriving in Iraq." Centrist and leftist papers in Europe and
Asia grumbled that the U.S. "is dragging its feet about offering guarantees
on transparency" and claimed that contracts "are almost exclusively
reserved" for U.S. multinationals.
Spain's conservative La Razon echoed many broadsheets,
complaining that Iraq's oil money "is being spent by Bremer as he thinks
best, with no international control, transparency or auditors." Japan's financial Nihon Kezai stated
that funds raised in Madrid needed to be spent "in a visible manner that
gives direct benefit to the Iraqi people."
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This analysis
is based on 60 reports from 30 countries, October 23-27, 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Guns But
The conservative Times had this to day (10/27): "Significantly, the orchestrators of the
attacks on coalition forces and Iraqis working to rebuild the country have been
forced to increase the bounty they pay to hit-and-run squads and suicide
bombers. That hardly suggests mounting
popular support for a 'war of resistance'.
Many Iraqis want a quick passage to self-government, but in Baghdad last
month 67 per cent told Gallup pollsters that they expect life to be much better
in five years--better than it is today, and that it was under Saddam. After the better than expected returns from
the Madrid conference, sufficient funds have been pledged for initial
rebuilding. But private investment will
follow only with security, which is why the military operation should not be
scaled back. The attack on Mr. Wolfowitz
may convince Saturday's 'out now' demonstrators in Washington that they are
right. It is the opposite conclusion
that should be drawn."
The independent Financial Times concluded (10/27): "Overall, the reconstruction money is
well short of the $56bn the World Bank has estimated Iraq needs over the next
four years. Nevertheless, Madrid can be
considered a qualified success. Despite
still raw diplomatic feelings over the legitimacy of the war, the Madrid
gathering recognized that everyone now has an interest in trying to create a
stable, independent and democratic Iraq.
Not only do Iraqis deserve a break.
Failure in Iraq would also incubate violence in the region and the
world--without discriminating too much between those who were for or against
the war.... There is a larger question
about this level of aid, which inevitably will result in money being diverted
away from the poorest countries and vital and underfunded campaigns such as the
Aids program.... The reluctance of Arab
countries and European opponents of the war to be seen to be financing an
occupying power, as well as the emphasis on loans in Madrid, may both turn out
to be useful. The first rightly reminds
the U.S. that a successful reconstruction of Iraq requires a degree of external
and internal legitimacy, under the political umbrella of the UN, that the Bush
administration cannot yet bring itself to countenance."
"Donors Must Build A Market Economy In Iraq"
A commentary in the independent Financial Times stressed
(10/24): "The donors’ conference
for Iraq that began on Thursday in Madrid comes at a time of growing acceptance
of the need for wider international participation in helping Iraq to
recover.... If their hard-earned funds
are to have the maximum benefit, donors’ attention must focus on helping build
an Iraq that will adopt an open, liberal market economy.... This has implications for the Provisional
Authority, which must strive--as it is doing--to secure the rule of law, create
an independent judiciary and ensure that the economy is managed in a prudent,
non-inflationary way.… Overcoming the effects of war and years of economic
mismanagement will not be easy. But
donors’ funds and support for private investment, if they are intelligently
deployed, could make a world of difference."
"Taking A Shorter Term View Of Rebuilding
Is Not A Cause For Gloom"
Foreign Editor Bronwen Maddox asserted in the
conservative Times (10/24): “Even
though the Bush administration is now routinely criticized for giving too
little thought to rebuilding Iraq, this week’s conference in Madrid, trying to
drum up cash for just that, is in danger of making the opposite mistake of
looking further ahead than is possible.… The total figure will fall far short
of the $55 billion or so analysts say Iraq needs. But that is not a cause for gloom. The funds raised could be plenty for the
first year, and that is what matters most.
Oil, security, and a constitution: get those right, and it will be much
easier to raise money than it is now.
Get those wrong, and even if tens of billions were raised this week,
they would be wasted.… The time available may be much, much shorter than many
at Madrid are assuming.… U.S. officials have hinted that mid-2004 is a good target
for getting troops out of Iraq, or at least cutting numbers greatly. Now British officials are quietly saying they
want the same. Foreign troops largely
out within nine months? That is the
possibility on which the Madrid conference should focus.”
"Oil, Reconstruction And Reasons For
Suspicion Over U.S. Intentions"
An editorial in the center-left Independent
held (10/24): “The Iraq donors’
conference in Madrid is likely to close this afternoon on a positive note, with
delight about the large number of potential contributors represented and
pledges of $5bn as good as in the bank.
This outcome qualifies as positive...only because the Americans and
British lowered expectations so comprehensively in advance.… The decision to
place foreign assistance in a new fund to be administered by the UN and the
World Bank embodies the best and worst of U.S. concessions. On the one hand, the creation of the new fund
probably ensured unanimous passage of the recent UN resolution, and so
encouraged contributions at Madrid....
On the other hand, this fund has one glaring omission: the oil industry,
including the oil revenue, remains the responsibility of the U.S. and British
provisional authority.... Many opponents
of the war worldwide, not to speak of many Iraqis, always suspected that
Washington’s chief ambition was to secure a cheap and abundant source of
oil. The preferential treatment accorded
by the U.S. authorities early on to such well-connected companies as Halliburton
and Bechtel did nothing to dispel that impression.... So long as such a large slice of Iraq’s
future is effectively controlled by America...suspicions will persist about
U.S. intentions, and the help that is so desperately needed will not be
FRANCE: "Billions For
Luc de Barochez judged in right-of-center Le Figaro
(10/25): “A rainfall of dollars fell
over Iraq on Friday. But the result of
the gigantic ‘telethon’ held in Madrid is theoretical because for the time
being they are only pledges.... Thanks
to its persistent pressure the U.S. managed to convince its main partners to
overcome their hesitations.... While in
financial terms the conference’s results fall short of the expectations,
politically speaking the U.S. is talking about the Madrid conference as a success.... Still, the international community fell short
of finding its lost unity.... The
conference did not manage to lift the main obstacles to Iraq’s economic
recovery: security and political uncertainty.”
"A Chance Not To Be Missed"
Jean de Belot judged in right-of-center Le
Figaro (10/24): “America’s
acknowledgment of its difficulties (in Iraq) opens the door to a new
dialogue. The side of peace was wise
enough not to rejoice in the fact that it was right about Iraq. By voting in favor of the UN resolution and
getting an agreement from Iran, it has proven its good intentions.... The idea now is to re-establish the dialogue,
not necessarily on Iraq, but on terrorism.
This is where the opportunity lies.
While the war on Iraq was open to criticism, no one can question the
fact that the entire Western bloc is concerned about the terrorist
threat.... It is time to take this
opportunity and to possibly impose a different way to administer Iraq. After all it is inconceivable that the U.S.
should call for help in financing Iraq’s reconstruction while it is not willing
to share the contracts or management of the crisis.”
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation
(10/24): “It is a moral imperative and a
strategic necessity to help the Iraqi people.... Therefore we should be applauding the Donors
Conference while wondering about the reticence of countries such as France.... But there are reasons to this apparent
stinginess.... The reconstruction of
Iraq is for the time being solely in the hands of the U.S. administration and
profits are almost exclusively reserved for a handful of American
multinationals.... In addition, Iraq is
lacking in security as well as a legal framework, two basic necessities for the
country to begin to function. The lack
of generosity in Madrid can be explained by Bush's desire to retain control
over Iraq’s transition.... The losers
will be the Iraqis as well as the American taxpayers.”
"Iraq Under America’s Control"
Jean-Christophe Ploquin observed in Catholic La
Croix (10/24): “France is right to
hold off on sending troops to Iraq or fund its reconstruction.... The U.S. is dragging its feet about offering
guarantees on transparency that would create an atmosphere of trust.... Mistrust in the face of America's lack of
eagerness to be transparent about the granting of contracts remains. The U.S. wants to retain control over the
military and financial situation.... As
time passes the more it looks as though this desire for control in Iraq is tied
to mercantile interests. This context
largely explains why France, Russia and Germany wish for a quick transfer of
sovereignty to the Iraqis.”
Are Necessary "
Markus Ziener judged in business daily Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf (10/27): "If final
evidence of the helplessness of the U.S. superpower in Iraq was necessary, then
yesterday's events delivered it. Not
even in the well-protected Al-Rashid Hotel, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz was
safe.... What Iraq now needs are
economic successes, and this as quickly as possible, and it needs back its
political sovereignty to make the enemy image of the occupation power
disappear. If this does not happen, the
attacks will continue for the unforeseeable future. Maybe it was also this insight that prompted
the participants in the Madrid donors' conference to rethink.... Now it is important to channel the money into
the right projects, and the United States should leave it to those who have
experience in these things: the United
Nations, the World Bank, the Europeans."
"No Money For Oil"
Hans Monath argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin
(10/26): "What sense would it make
to make many soldiers and a lot of money available for a concept that the
Berlin government considers not very promising for good reasons? Even those who invest taxpayers' money in
useless projects during better times are stupid. In addition, the Berlin government has
pressed in vain for international controls over Iraqi oil revenue and the
relief funds because this is the only possibility to reduce distrust. Those who pay immediately would also give
away any political means of pressure.
When Washington, in view of the setbacks, thinks about greater UN influence
and a transition government that has a better legitimation in a few months,
what could then be a lure for the Berlin government to promote this
"No Alternative In Iraq"
Wolfgang Koydl noted in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche
Zeitung of Munich (10/27): "One
may have rejected America's intervention in Iraq, maybe for good reasons. But we cannot make the war unhappen. It has created a new reality and this says
that there is no alternative to the U.S. occupation until further notice. Those who want it to end as quickly as
possible can contribute by offering money.
Malicious glee at every U.S. setback is detrimental only to the Iraqis
and pleases the murderous gangs of the Saddam's supporters."
Rainer Suetfeld commented on national radio station
Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (10/24):
"The fetishism about numbers in Madrid was nothing but a
farce. The real success of the Madrid
donors' conference is this: Rarely
before was the real situation of the country, ranging from the threatening
security situation to the disastrous infrastructure, be conveyed so openly to
the public. In this situation, the
picture of flourishing landscapes, presented by the U.S. occupiers and Iraqi's
governing council, did not help much.
Nobody believed their words, at least not the investors present at the
conference. Those who listened carefully
recognized what was thrown back at the United States again and again: its
unilateral moves, Washington stubbornness in Baghdad and in the UN Security
Council are the main obstacle for greater international involvement in
Iraq. The UN resolution, which was
praised in every speech of the coalition of the willing, was criticized by
others as a missed opportunity.... It is
a beaten winner who returns to Washington following this wrestling for
funds. But this is something the
American voters will not learn like the Iraqi people cannot in reality hope for
fresh money without increasing their debt following this bazaar of donors in which
the banks presented the framework for future payments."
"Reservation Of Usually Generous Europe Is
P. Kaminski commented on national radio station
Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (10/23):
"Since the United States has realized that it cannot achieve any
progress on its own in Iraq and since the 'adventure' in the country is very
expensive, it is trying to present the Madrid conference as a success.... But the United States continues to conceal
how it spends money from Iraqi oil exports.
And by awarding billion dollar contracts only to U.S. companies, it
seems to prove all those right who accuse the United States of exploiting Iraq
economically. In view of this situation,
the reservation of the usually generous Europeans is only understandable. The Donors Conference is not under a good
"Iraq Pictures, Iraq Funds"
Jacques Schuster concluded in right-of-center Die
Welt of Berlin (10/24): "Almost
five months after the end of the war, the allied forces have Iraq by no means
under control...but within five months, they have succeeded in achieving
something that sounded utopian a while ago:
for the first time in its history, Iraq has a government comprised of
members from all the ethnic groups in the country.... At the same time, the press is flourishing
and under the influence of this fresh wind, Saudi Arabia has allowed local
elections...and today, U.S. companies...pass on 45 percent of their orders to
Iraqi companies.... Baghdad is booming. With a view to the stability of the region,
it is in the interest of everybody that this progress not remain a snail. A precondition is the success of the Madrid
donors' conference.... But together with
France and some other opponents, Germany treats Iraq as if it were an
unexploded shell. It is the old grudge
against Washington. The result is that
Berlin is not even represented with a minister in Madrid.... Again we can see that this government has no
instinct, no feeling for style, no feeling for symbols, and that Europeans
continue to be at odds with each other."
ITALY: "Iraq, America
Is Worried -- ‘Aid Is Far From Goal’"
Mino Vignolo wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (10/24): “As he opened
the Donors Conference in Madrid, Kofi Annan put his criticism aside regarding
the Anglo-American military operation and looked toward the future seeking to
bring the ‘Iraq dossier’ back under the aegis of the UN with a realistic
speech.… 332 companies from around the world are participating in the forum. Some, especially American ones, are already
on the territory, others are anxious to set foot there.… Secretary of State
Powell admitted: ‘It could take time to reach the 55 billion dollar goal.’ Iraq needs 36 billion dollars until 2007,
plus 19 billion dollars to get security and the oil industry back on its
feet. Even if the result falls short of
the ambitious goal, it will be interpreted as a first, very important step
towards reconstruction. The priorities
set by Annan are three: security, an autonomous Iraqi leadership, institutional
"'The World Must Help Iraq'"
Alessandro Oppes judged in left-leaning,
influential La Repubblica (10/24):
"’Donate, donate generously.’
Kofi Annan’s appeal sounds like an almost desperate attempt to erase
with one stroke all the disputes and to kick off reconstruction plans in
Iraq. He opened the Donors
Conference...but the Secretary General knows once again that there is a risk
that the UN will be left on the sidelines of the decision-making
process.... Annan is asking for a clear
‘signal’ from participating countries.
But the whole day yesterday, diverse and contradictory signals came from
Madrid.... After all, the U.S. still has
to clarify in what measure their allocation will be directly handled by U.S.
companies and what percentage will increase the joint fund. The pie of the reconstruction is enormous and
European companies are starting to step forward: in parallel to the governments
conference, 300 representatives from the private sector are trying to assure
themselves a place in a business.... But
the distrust and disputes are not dissipated by the appeals for
"Annan: ‘Immediate Reconstruction’"
Alberto Negri noted in leading business Il
Sole-24 Ore (10/24): “Inside, in the
azure blue conference hall in Madrid, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan makes his
appeal to donor countries: ‘We would all like to see sovereignty restored to
Iraq as soon as possible, but we can’t wait until that day to begin
reconstruction.… Now, on the wings of Resolution 1511 approved last week by the
Security Council, the Secretary General is ready to give moral support to the
American occupation in Iraq. Outside,
another realism prevails--the concrete and immediate one of businessmen: ‘To
get to Baghdad we must go through Washington,’ said straightforwardly Bart
Fisher, co-founder of the U.S.-Iraq Business Council, one of the lobbies that
actively handle Iraqi contracts.… For American companies, the challenge
regarding the reconstruction has already begun on the field, with funds
controlled by Washington.”
RUSSIA: "What's In The
Gennadiy Sysoyev commented in reformist
business-oriented Kommersant (10/24):
"It is about the U.S. control over postwar Iraq. In fact, it is what the whole Iraq story,
with the Shock and Awe operation as its climax, is all about. Of course, it is best when you don't have to
split up with anybody. Initially, the
United States hoped it wouldn't have to.
But half a year later, after its impressive victory over Saddam,
Washington realized that it was not to be the sole ruler in Baghdad. As things are going, the Americans...would
have to pay a price exorbitant even for the world's only superpower.... As they insist on an early transfer of power
to a local government, the U.S. opponents not so much worry about the Iraqi
people's future as strive to bring U.S. control over Iraq to a minimum. Having failed to get a concrete date for the
transfer of power from the United States, its opponents have made it clear that
they are not going to send troops or share military and political
responsibility for what is happening in Iraq with the United States. But they would not mind partaking of the
economic pork barrel. So they are trying
to persuade the Americans to offer some of it."
AUSTRIA: "For A Few
In centrist Die Presse, foreign affairs
writer Thomas Vieregge commented (10/24):
“The leaders of the anti-war camp--Russia, Germany and France--felt it
wasn’t even necessary to send a ministerial-level delegation, a clear sign of
their disregard and possibly also an attempt at revenge.... One of the problems is the fact that Iraq is
a bottomless pit. The country boasting
the world’s second largest oil reserves is offering billion-dollar contracts on
a silver platter, but potential clients would in turn have to pump billions of
dollars into rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure.
In the meantime, a number of U.S. corporations have already secured
themselves a head start.... The world
has grown wary of the risks.”
Markus Bernath argued in liberal Der Standard
(10/24): “It would only seem logical for
the U.S. to pay for repairing the damage it has done. Still, it would be wrong. The Europeans would gamble away their chance
at co-shaping the Iraqi reconstruction process, should they refuse to share the
costs. They could support their position
in the Arab world as a corrective counterweight to America’s political
interests, as long as they make sure that rebuilding the country with the
world’s second largest oil reserves does not turn into a purely American
undertaking, but remains under World Bank control. These days, European pride does nothing to help
the Iraqi people.”
Foreign editor Jean Vanempten wrote in financial daily De
Financieel-Economische Tijd (10/25):
"The United States knows that it heavily underestimated the
reconstruction (of Iraq) and that the regime change did not open the road
towards democracy. That is why it is now
begging for money in Madrid and why the UN is allowed to collect money for the
reconstruction of Iraq. The unstable
situation in Iraq makes it impossible to boost the oil production so that the
need for money is growing day by day.
The basic needs of the Iraqi people cannot be met at this moment. Moreover, the search for money is accompanied
by a search for troops which are to take over the role of the tired American
solders. However, because of the current
situation in Iraq there are not many candidates and the United States must
count on countries where it can virtually literally buy troops. That keeps the cost high."
Xavier Diskeuve opined in Catholic Vers L’Avenir
(10/25): “Yesterday, Belgium has agreed
to participate in Iraq’s reconstruction.
The Iraqis realize that this is a unique chance for them and that they
are going to benefit from the Belgians’ most impressive inventions. They know that their country will become a
modern and efficient federal state, divided in numerous regions and communities
whose territories will overlap. They
already know that many Iraqis will be given the opportunity to quickly become
Parliamentarians, or even Ministers!
They know that they will have plenty of highways--perhaps not in good
condition, but lit at night. They know
that they will have two kinds of stamps, the ‘priority’ for the mail that must
reach its recipient, and the ‘non-priority’ for the mail about which no one
cares.... The Iraqis will also have
plenty of public radio stations--one for news programs, one for classical
music, one for rock and roll, and one for youngsters. Yet, they will continue to prefer to listen
to commercial radio stations. And with
the help of Belgium, they will one day obtain that the Tour de France begins in
Iraq, with two or three legs starting in the most influential Ministers’
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Iraqi
Figures In Madrid"
Adam Cerny editorialized in the business daily Hospodarske
Noviny (10/27): "The Madrid
discussions about who will donate how much to the reconstruction of Iraq would
have been easier, if disputes over military action were not projected into
them. Figures from Madrid show that
reservations about the post-war organization of Iraq have not vanished
yet. Despite all reservations, nobody is
interested in a political debacle in Iraq.
But, all the reservations, unfortunately, do not prevent repercussions
from existing disagreements. For reasons
of political influence, and sometimes also prestige, each of the parties
involved will enumerate potential gains and losses before any step is
taken. The biggest risk, therefore, is
contained in the possibility that short-term interests would jeopardize long-term
Radek Honzak commented in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny
(10/25): "Although the donors'
conference for Iraq in Madrid did not end up as badly as had been expected, the
total collected remains well below the sum, which the devastated country needs. Europe especially is falling behind. The main opponents of the war--France and
Germany--did not offer anything above what they already contributed. The reason for their unwillingness to help
might be revenge against the U.S. for ignoring their opposition to the war.... In such case, this tactic is
shortsighted. If the situation in Iraq
improves, the U.S. will take Europe even less into account when deciding about
its foreign policy. And if Iraq becomes
a 'new Vietnam,' this or the next president will pull U.S. forces out of the
country. And then particularly, Europe
would have to bear the consequences of such chaos, including a spread of
"Madrid, Iraq, Oil, And Debts"
Jan Machacek pointed in the centrist, leading daily MF Dnes
(10/25): "Three of the most
important, neuralgic points, with which the reconstruction in Iraq must deal,
remain unsolved even after the donors' conference in Madrid: Several billion U.S. dollars will probably be
collected during the conference and in the following months, but Iraq's overall
national debt is an unimaginable USD350 billion. The speed of reconstruction will to a
significant extent depend on how Iraq will succeed in negotiations leading to
forgiveness of its debt.... Everything
connected to Iraqi oil is an explosive political topic, but if nobody knows how
much Iraq will export; it is impossible even to estimate how much it needs for
"Warrior Countries Should Pay Compensation In Iraq"
Left-wing Information commented (10/27): “The war coalition countries, including
Denmark, ought to pay considerable compensation to the Iraqi people for the
devastation the bombing and occupation has brought to their nation.”
"Anti-Intervention Troika Must Change Course On Reconstruction
Center-right Berlingske Tidende editorialized (10/26): “It was not possible to get the troika of war
opposition countries to make increased contributions to the reconstruction of
Iraq. But Russia, Germany and France
ought to change their policies on this issue immediately. It is the people of Iraq who are suffering as
the result of the on-going political game.”
NETHERLANDS: "Iraq And
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad judged (10/25): "The donor conference by far did not
yield the 55 billion dollar which the UN and the World Bank said are
necessary.... But this is not too big a
disaster because the institutional capacity of Iraq is still so poor that only
five billion dollars per year can be spent properly.... Another aspect of the legacy of the Saddam
era is that the country has huge foreign debts of hundreds of billions of
dollars. The United States started a
campaign to pardon these debts....
France, Russia, and Germany are the main creditors.... But there are many more obstacles. Foreign investors are not too eager to start
operating in Iraq.... The situation is
still unsafe and the organization of reconstruction is very unclear.... The importance of political stability and
economic progress is enormous. That is
why the countries which opposed the war cannot stay on the sidelines now that
economic and financial support is needed for the reconstruction of Iraq. They need to make a generous
Conservative De Telegraaf took this view (10/25): "Normally, the Netherlands is very
generous when it comes to development assistance even in cases where it was not
clear whether that money was well-spent.
But now that Iraq is crying for help the Dutch Cabinet has let Iraq
down.... The Netherlands only promised
14 million Euros. True, the Netherlands
is already making a military contribution but it could have given more
money.... The Netherlands should have also set conditions to the money it made
available and by doing so it would have helped Dutch companies to play a role
in Iraq. Other countries had no problem
setting conditions to their donation. There is no reason for the Netherlands to
try to be more Catholic than the Pope."
NORWAY: "Follow The
The independent Dagbladet commented (10/26): “That Norway and the rest of the world are
picking up part of the bill for the misrule of Saddam Hussein and wars against
Iran and Kuwait is a recognition that the stabilization of Iraq is important
for the whole of the Middle East. But
also for the rest of the world.... Now
it is important to follow the money so that it will benefit Iraqis.”
POLAND: "Europe Is
Robert Soltyk wrote in liberal Gazeta
Wyborcza (10/24): “Despite its
declared will to assist in building a democratic Iraq, Europe once again
resolved to show President Bush a ‘forget it’ sign.... In fact, this should not come as surprise
because during the war [in Iraq], which most Europeans did not want, the
European Union sent warnings to the U.S. saying: ‘Do not expect us to pay this
time.’… The real reason for Europe’s miserliness is its distrust toward the
politics of America, which took Iraq’s reconstruction under its wing.... It seems that Paris and Berlin have already
made bets that Bush will lose next year’s presidential elections, and that his
successor will be more conciliatory toward Europe than the current
administration.... The worse things go
in Iraq, the worse for Bush, so all the better for Europe. But this game by the Europeans is dangerous,
and it may prove detrimental, mainly for themselves. If the situation becomes really unbearable
(‘another Vietnam’), then the incumbent or another U.S. president may leave
Iraq to its own fate, and the problems (immigration, terrorism) will fall chiefly
on Europe. If things go well in Iraq,
and the success is achieved without money and troops from the EU, then the U.S.
president will have even less standing with the Union in the future.”
Generous Than Expected"
In the financially oriented daily, Curentul foreign policy
analyst Roxana Frosin commented (10/27):
“Leaving aside somehow the misunderstandings that preceded the Gulf
military intervention, in March of this year, the international donors proved
to be more generous than Washington even expected, taking into account that
(the U.S.) is confronted with a chaotic situation in Iraq, and with the
opposition of certain European countries, such as France and Germany, and the
Arab world, generally speaking. Like
Russia, the French-German axis refused to jump in with financial help or troops
to help the international coalition, while other countries from the Gulf
region, like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, each promised to make one billion dollar
investments in the Iraqi reconstruction.”
More Influence, No One Will Donate Money"
Veso Stojanov opined in left-of-center Delo (10/24): “Taking a closer look at this diplomatic
sweet talk, we can see that the primary goal of the Madrid Donors Conference is
to improve the worsening public reputation that President Bush has enjoyed at
home. The American administration has
worked hard to present America’s unilateral adventure in Iraq as a multilateral
operation.... The Iraqi adventure has
become an increasingly heavy political burden for President Bush and his
hawks.... The Madrid Donors Conference
is an extremely good opportunity for the Bush administration to sell the story
to the U. S. public of Iraq as a problem of the international community, and
direct responsibility away from George Bush....
The world has sent a signal. But
it has been directed toward Washington rather than Baghdad.... At the conference, most countries are
represented by financial ministers and lower governmental officials. This is
another signal to Washington not to consider the conference...a victory. The world will symbolically participate in
the reconstruction of Iraq, but all burdens resulting from the U. S. unilateral
operation in Iraq cannot be distributed among the countries of the whole
SPAIN: "And When For
Conservative La Razon wrote (10/27): "It would be good if the money that has
been given, the famous donations, were managed by an international, serious
organization, and not just by the Americans that, as we have seen, don't think
much of others but a lot about their own....
As the Iraq 'Revenue Watch Project' of multimillionaire George Soros has
publicly condemned, Bremer is postponing verification of expenditures. So oil revenues are today controlled by the
interim authority of the coalition, that is, by Bremer and his cabinet of
eleven 'fair' men, of whom only one is Iraqi.
The oil money is being spent as Bremer thinks best, with no
international control, transparency or auditors. We suppose that (the money) will be correctly
spent. But now is not the time for
supposing. The oil money and the money
donated by the international community to the Iraqi people must be correctly
used and with the controls demanded by the competent international
organizations.... What's worst is that
the 'Bremer-boys,' besides managing the American funds and the oil money
without explanations, also want to control the aid funds from other donor
countries.... More than a humanitarian
forum, this seems like a market, and for this writer it is scandalous that it's
trying to pull off a good deal with Iraq....
What the 'liberators' now want is to cancel Iraqi debt. They say this because they know that U.S. has
nothing to forgive, because France, Japan and Russia are the main debtors of
Left-of-center El País commented (10/24): "Today, the final amounts which will be
given by each country will be stated, but it does not seem that there will be a
real fight for generosity, above all due to the U.S. decision to directly
control its contribution of 20 billion dollars, which actually becomes a grant
for its companies, some of them closely linked to prominent members of the Bush
administration.... What is talked about
is Iraq's reconstruction, but, actually, it is about building a new country,
and not simply erasing the effects of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship and three
devastating wars. Certainly, poorest
Africa, and many countries that are always forgotten, will look at Madrid with
envy. They would also like to be 'rebuilt'."
"Fundraising For Freedom In Iraq"
Conservative ABC observed (10/24): "The Donors Conference is backing for
the gigantic task of putting a destroyed economy on its feet, although it is
only the first step in a long path, full of difficulties.... It is not an easy task, and not all the
decisions made by the allied forces at the first moment were effective. But, once the international division in the
UN is solved, there is a great opportunity to heal the wounds, do one's utmost
to rebuild infrastructures and public services--which were not only destroyed
by the attacks of the allied forces, but, mainly, by decades of dictatorship's
neglect and barbarism--and prepare the path for the Iraqi economy to have the
role belonging to it according to its real resources. That opportunity should not be wasted and,
for the most part, depends on what is agreed upon in Madrid."
"The Important Risks Of Investing In Iraq"
Independent daily El Mundo remarked (10/24): "The NGO Christian Aid accused Iraq's
interim government, which is controlled by the U.S., of not giving account of 4
of the 5 billion of the Iraqi Development Fund.... This shows the lack of transparency of the
system set up in Iraq. Transparency is
essential for money to start arriving [in Iraq] at last."
"Aid For Iraq"
Business Gaceta de los Negocios wrote (10/24): "Not only governments, but also private
companies, may have incentives for investing in Iraq and, like in the past, French
companies will be present in the Iraqi sectors regardless of their government's
decision. For the task to be successful,
it is essential to establish economic priorities and have security."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Pay Great Attention To Rebuilding
London’s influential, ASharq Al-Awsat carried an op-ed
commentary by the paper’s editor Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (10/26): "The rebuilding of Iraq, as proposed,
will bridge 20 years of development into only five years, perhaps less. Its implications, if successful, will be
great. From our experience we see a real
link, not a theoretical one, between development and political stability. We need not
present evidence here that economic problems in the Arab world were the
reason behind political instability and emergence of destructive
movements. Therefore, the American move
to rebuild Iraq, alongside political reform, was a good step for the benefit of
the Iraqi people, the Arabs of the region, and certainly will bring
stability.... The Americans have to
prove that they are capable of building a modern state not only by delivering
lectures to the students of the region but also to prove their good intentions
by rebuilding a state such as Iraq."
"The Kingdom And Reconstruction Of Iraq"
Mecca’s conservative, Al-Nadwa editorialized (10/26): "For the Iraqi people to benefit from
the generous aid pledged at the Madrid conference, there has to be some
immediate plan to bring Iraq back to an independent state. This can only be done if an autonomous Iraqi
government is formed and is able to exercise control over the country’s affairs
without any foreign involvement."
"The Madrid Conference"
Jeddah’s English language daily Saudi Gazette (10/26): "In the long run, if the Iraqi economy
is revived largely as a result of Washington's efforts and some semblance of
political order is restored, then critics of America’s policies are going to
look somewhat foolish."
The Meaning of the Saudi Contribution in Rebuilding Iraq
Riyadh's moderate, Al-Jazira editorialized (10/25): "By this [contribution], the Kingdom has
disturbed the monopoly of American companies and the companies of those
countries which participated in the war against Iraq.... Saudi companies will benefit from opening a
window for export of Saudi goods to Iraq."
"Rebuilding Of Iraq:
Dammam's moderate, Al-Yaum opined (10/25): "The Kingdom has taken honorable stands
in supporting the Iraqi people in many cases.
Therefore, it was not strange for the Kingdom to decide to participate
in funding trade and the resumption of exports, while at the same time working
to rebuild Iraq. This reasserts the
Kingdom's long standing position toward supporting Arabic and Islamic nations
in overcoming their crises and is the real meaning of the Kingdom's stand on
reactivating Arabic and Islamic brotherhood and applying it to concrete
programs and projects."
LEBANON: "When The
Donors Conference Changes Into A Security Tool"
Muhammad Baker Sherri declared in independent, non-sectarian Ad-Diyar
(10/24): “This donor conference in
Madrid to rebuild Iraq which was destroyed by the United States, does not only
aim at displaying President Bush to his voters as a person who wants to save
some money for the U.S. taxpayer, but as a person who wants to hold the whole
world responsible for what went on in Iraq.
Bush also wants to be able to get his troops to stay longer in Iraq, but
with an international umbrella. Kofi
Annan’s...statement that countries should not link their assistance to Iraq to
Iraq’s regaining its sovereignty is a boost to the U.S. strategy that aims to
stay in Iraq for the longest time possible.”
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Iraq’s Future
Still Murky Despite Massive Aid Donations"
The official English-language newspaper China
Daily reported (10/27): “The two-day
international donors’ conference...rais[ed] more donations than expected. More aid promises, however, do not
immediately promise a bright future for the war-torn country’s rebuilding as
several key factors remain uncertain....
In short, a ‘better than normal’ outcome of the donors conference does
not provide enough assurances for a bright future of Iraq’s reconstruction
process. No matter what prospects it is
going to have, one sure thing is that it will continue to be a focus of international
attention in the years to come.”
"What’s Behind The Large Gap In
Lu Hong commented in the official Communist Party international
news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (10/24):
“Although the international community committed only a small amount of
money for Iraqi reconstruction, ...the meeting was still a successful one. It was convened in a humanitarian and
peaceful spirit and sent out a clear message to the U.S.: it must return to the
UN framework to settle international issues.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Fear Of Hollow Aid Pledges Looms Large"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
foreign editor, Peter Kammerer, wrote (10/26):
"U.S. President George W. Bush and other senior members of his
administration have hailed the two-day meeting in Madrid as a success, saying
the U.S.$13 billion pledged guaranteed prosperity for Iraqis.... But observers predicated that a situation
similar to Afghanistan--where the majority of pledges at a donors' conference
in Japan last year failed to materialize--was likely. The confusing split of promises into loans
and aid grants was unsatisfactory for Iraq, already burdened by debts of
JAPAN: "Restoration Of
Security And Increased Aid Necessary"
Business daily Nihon Keizai commented (10/27): "The Madrid donors conference was a
partial success.... ,Although the
pledged amount fell short of the $55 billion that is projected to be needed, it
still exceeded the anticipated pledge total.
Funds raised at the conference should be spent on improving Iraq's
infrastructure in a visible manner that gives direct benefit to the Iraqi
people. Iraq's reconstruction hinges on
the restoration of security and increased assistance from the international
"Japan Should Do Its Utmost To Help With Iraq's
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (10/26): "Japan is now the second largest donor
after the U.S. At a time when the
U.S./UK administration of postwar Iraq is facing difficulty, it is only natural
that Japan, as a close U.S. ally, should do its utmost to assist in Iraq's
rebuilding. The stabilization of Iraq is also essential to the national
interests of Japan, which is dependent on the Middle East for about 90 percent
of its oil imports."
"Japan Pledges Generous Aid Despite Its Economic Woes"
An editorial in the liberal Asahi observed (10/27): "The outcome of the Madrid donors
conference has been called a U.S. diplomatic victory by the Bush
administration. But the U.S. should be
aware that some of donors, who pledged more than 33 billion USD, while eager to
assist in Iraq's rebuilding, are skeptical about the U.S. justification of the
war in Iraq.... Now is the time to map
out concrete plans to rebuild Iraq, where reconstruction work has been hampered
by the deteriorating security situation.
As things stand, there is no immediate progress in the war-devastated
nation's reconstruction. To make the
best use of international financial contributions pledged at the Madrid
conference, the U.S. and Britain should turn over the reins of government to
the Iraqi people at an early date."
"Madrid Conference Produces Financial Commitment"
Leading Independent Kompas commented (10/25): “In terms of the promises given by donor
countries, the Oct.23-24 conference in Madrid could be regarded as a
success. The U.S., as the initiator of
the conference, was capable of persuading and influencing a number of countries
and institutions to provide financial assistance for the rebuilding of
Iraq.... However, it must be
acknowledged that many countries have no other choices in facing the pressure,
domination, and hegemony of the U.S.
Many countries were forced to obey the U.S. pressure in order to avoid
U.S. intervention in the cooperation of economic, trade, and military
issues. The U.S. is the giant market,
which many countries in the world are targeting. If the U.S. closes its market against the
countries its dislikes, that country will suffer economically.... However, it seems that the U.S. and its allies
will not be immediately enjoy their benefits.
Meanwhile, people foresee the U.S. will have a bitter pill to swallow in
Iraq as fighting against the U.S. continues to escalate.”
Government-infleunced English Language daily New Straits Times
editorialized (10/27): "A lot of
money has been pledged for Iraq at the first donors conference in Madrid but
lots more is still needed for the huge task of rebuilding the country. Hopefully, the situation in Iraq will change
and improve to encourage more international donors to come forward with money
and troops. Conspicuously absent from
the donor list in Madrid were France, Germany and Russia, all major opponents
of the Iraq war. The contrast with
Afghanistan, where pledges of reconstruction aid were made by all major
countries when the war was over, is telling.
The ouster of the Taliban was backed by all major powers and the UN,
while the Iraqi war was waged by the U.S. and Britain without international
support. Iraq is still occupied without
a UN mandate and as long as this situation persists it will be difficult to
draw aid from more donors. Security in
Iraq is still volatile, as evidenced in the latest attack on a Baghdad hotel
where visiting U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying. It will be some time yet before Iraqis run
their own country. As things stand,
reconstruction funds will be controlled by the American authorities and there
is no telling whether lucrative contracts will be handed out to companies connected
to the White House."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
"Reconstruction of Iraq: An
An editorial in the Lahore-based independent Urdu daily Din
held (10/26): "Although not many
hopes were being pinned on the Madrid Donors Conference--owing to differences
between the European countries, and Iraq’s domestic situation--participants
demonstrated more generosity and interest than expected.... UN Secretary General has rightly said that
the promises of financial assistance are less than what the UN expects to be
spent on Iraqi reconstruction, but it is a start nonetheless.... The Iraqi Governing Council has said that
there are several projects that could be
undertaken by Iraqi firms, but the U.S. military authority did not
consult the Council before awarding these contracts secretly to American and
British companies. Ideally, the
Governing Council and the Iraqi interim government should have the final say in
the utilization of reconstruction funds,
not the U.S. administrative authority.
Otherwise a major portion of this money will go back to the developed
countries. However, for now, the
beginning made in the Donors Conference can be termed encouraging."
The center-right national English daily, The Nation argued
(10/26): "The funds are broadly
divided into two categories: loans and grants.
Washington, indisputably the principal wrecker of the country's
infrastructure, having engineered international sanctions against it that
lasted 13 agonizing years and later undertaking its illegal invasion, has
pledged the highest amount of about $20 billion, but a substantial part of it
is linked to contracts for U.S. firms."
Centrist national English daily, The News observed
(10/26): "Over 37 billion dollars
are estimated to have been pledged for the reconstruction of Iraq at the Madrid
donors’ conference--a remarkable success considering that there had been
suggestions to the U.S. to call it off to avoid an embarrassingly low turnout
and contributions.... Questions are
being asked about the non-transparent manner in which money is being spent in
Iraq. Much of it is going into
over-inflated contracts to American companies, and the British charity
Christian Aid estimates conservatively that 4 billion dollars of Iraqi oil
money may have disappeared into a black hole.
Plugging this credibility gap would, thus, seem a far greater challenge
for the U.S. than the occupation of Iraq and wringing money out of reluctant
donors for its reconstruction."
The Islamabad rightist English daily, Pakistan Observer
commented (10/26): "There should be
no illusion about the fact that the disbursement of the pledged amount will
squarely depend on the U.S. conduct. An
attempt to consolidate its occupation and delaying tactics to withdraw its
forces from Iraq on any pretext will obviously discourage the donor countries
and agencies to fulfill their pledges."
CANADA: "The Three
Scrooges And Iraq's Rebuilding"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (10/25): "Whatever quarrels there were over the
invasion of Iraq, it is in everyone's interest to keep the country from falling
into chaos--a failure that would destabilize the whole region, if not the world. If they truly care about Iraq's future, the
three Scrooges [France, Germany and Russia] should get over their postwar
pique, get into the spirit of Madrid and open their wallets like everyone
"We're In This Together"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen remarked (10/24): "Unfortunately, the war on terror will
take more lives, soldier and civilian, but let those lives not be lost because
of a refusal to admit the true nature of that war. Islamist terrorists oppose not just the
United States, but anything representative of the West and its secular,
humanist traditions. The UN was targeted
because what it stands for--human rights, freedom and tolerance--are mainstays
of western society. This message should
be heeded at the Iraq reconstruction conference currently under way in Madrid.... Some countries, including France, have said
they won't provide any more money beyond what they've already offered.... At the same time, though, to refuse to help
the U.S. in a fight which affects the entire West is extremely
Alfonso Elizondo asserted in independent El Norte
(10/25): "It's logical to think
that the majority of countries represented in Madrid’s donors forum are not
very enthusiastic about giving money away to create a fund that, although it
will probably be managed by the UN, will not be applied to the reconstruction
process, but to humanitarian actions, where there will be no contracts for
their companies, and in some cases, such as China, Russia and France, where
they will not even recover the investment made in Iraq before the U.S.
invasion.... While in appearance the
brilliant club of Madrid donors meets a humanitarian function, just below that
luminous epidermis lies the historically Puritan obsession of U.S. governments
to pretend that democracy and plurality underlie the practice of their foreign
policy. Now more than ever, when the
latest UN resolution has legitimized the invasion and occupation of Iraq, this
small Spanish operetta is performed to celebrate another superficial return to
Paraguay's third-largest and left-leaning daily "Noticias
editorialized (10/26): "Success?
Failure? Both things are being said of
the conference that was held in Madrid.
It was a success because 77 countries met and demonstrated much
interest. It was a failure because no
one wanted to give money.... Then why
did they meet?... Because they love to