December 12, 2003
'RECONSTRUCTION ROW' REOPENS OLD WOUNDS
** Global media denounce
the U.S.' reconstruction "blacklist" as "petty"
"exclusion" reopens old wounds, alienates allies and will set back
U.S. efforts in Iraq.
** It fuels the leftist
theory that the U.S. wants to exploit Iraq reconstruction for its own gain.
** Wolfowitz gets blamed
for the "hostile" edict; national security rationale is
'Clearly a punitive measure' against allies, but U.S. 'revenge'
will only hurt Iraqis-- Euro papers found the
U.S.' "crude display of pettiness" and "blunt retaliation"
against those countries that did not support the U.S. in Iraq hard to fathom
and "an unnecessary affront" to traditional U.S. allies. France's right-of-center Le Figaro
held that the Pentagon's "posturing" was done with "a degree of
rudeness that comes close to provocation."
But the "real scandal," noted a German paper, is that
Washington "settles old accounts on the backs of the Iraqis." Canadian reaction to America's "inept
insult" of a "principled ally" was mixed, but writers agreed new
PM Martin must "take the high road" and not renege on the
$250-million Iraqi aid pledge. One
Toronto columnist instead derided the outcry by those expecting "equal
status" with a country whose soldiers are coming home in body bags
"as chutzpah on a grand scale."
Pentagon revives pre-war 'animosities' just when the U.S.
'desperately needs help'--
Observers were dismayed that after months of ostensibly trying to
"mend the rifts with Old Europe" and to garner NATO intervention, the
U.S. had suddenly "closed the door to dialogue." Britain's Financial Times could not
see how "gratuitously alienating important allies" around the globe
can "enhance U.S. security."
Even war supporters, such as Spain's conservative ABC, feared
Wolfowitz's action "threatens to revive the upheaval" that had
started to dissipate. Echoing sentiment
in Europe and the Americas, Beijing's official China Daily termed the
decision another example of U.S. "unilateralism that does nothing to help
heal the deep wounds" left by the war and "a setback" to efforts
to win international support in rebuilding Iraq.
The U.S. is 'dividing the spoils of war' for its own commercial
benefit-- Though a few conservative
and financial Western dailies found "some basis" in the exclusion,
more writers adhered to the "deep-rooted leftist cliche" that the
U.S. was trying to take the "lion's share" of Iraqi business. Editorials in Indonesia and Uganda accused
the U.S. of "looting and "plunder," with Kampala's state-owned New
Vision claiming that the U.S. and UK
want to recover the cost of the Iraq invasion by "steering juicy
contracts to their own companies."
Wolfowitz left a 'disastrous' impression, personifies the 'hubris'
that led to war-- The Deputy Secretary of
Defense's national security justification for the "blacklisting" was
"more than hypocritical."
Critics complained the U.S. was banning Berlin while allowing Riyadh to
take part and limiting competition while proclaiming itself "an advocate
of free trade." Further, such
reprisals, noted Tunisia's independent French-language Le Quotidien,
"represent a new excess on the part of the Hawks" in Washington who
use the Iraqi pie as a "tool of pressure."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 46 reports from 24 countries, December 11-12. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "How Not To
Make Friends And Influence People"
The independent Financial Times editorialized (12/11): "The Pentagon's decision to bar
countries that opposed the war from bidding for 26 reconstruction contracts in
Iraq is, to put it mildly, impolitic....
The Bush administration had to work hard on Congress to ensure this was
provided to Iraq in the form of aid, rather than as loans to be repaid by
future Iraqi oil revenues, as several Republican members wanted. Payback in the form of contracts limited to
companies from U.S. and Iraq coalition countries was very probably part of the
horse-trading.... Paul Wolfowitz, the
deputy defence secretary and architect of the Iraq war strategy, says in his
'finding' that limiting competition for these contracts 'is necessary for the
protection of the essential security interests of the United States'. It is hard to see how gratuitously alienating
important allies in Europe, the Americas and the Islamic world can enhance U.S.
security.... Most of all, the contracts
edict shows yet again the Pentagon's preference for sticking to its own
alarmingly overoptimistic postwar scenarios....
The besetting problem with this unfortunate 'finding' is the hegemonic
whiff it gives off. The U.S. desperately
needs help in Iraq and this is not the way to get it."
Pierre Rousselin commented in right-of-center Le Figaro
(12/11): “What is unpleasant is that
this has been done with a degree of rudeness that comes close to
provocation.... For the U.S. it is very
unfortunate that President Bush’s policy is once again being presented in such
a petty-minded way. Anti-Americanism,
which we are right to fight, will be awakened.
Many will wonder whether the war in Iraq was not conducted in order to
keep a hand on oil contracts. Although
the real reasons for the war are different, the impression stemming from Paul
Wolfowitz may prevail in the end.... The
impression left by his directive is disastrous.
The U.S. can hope to convince a majority of nations to help in
stabilizing Iraq only if it approaches it as a common objective and forgets
about past quarrels. The State
Department’s realists--Colin Powell in Washington and Paul Bremer in
Baghdad--know this. It is too bad Paul
Wolfowitz and the Pentagon’s ideologues...continue with their posturing in the
hopes of ‘punishing’ those who did not follow them from the start.”
"America’s Monopoly In Iraq"
Guillaume Goubert held in Catholic La Croix (12/11): “Resentment is tenacious.... While the Iraqi contracts do not, legally,
fall under the jurisdiction of the WTO, the fact is that America’s rigid stance
does not favor an international consensus to come to the aid of Iraq. On the contrary it proves that Washington
continues to consider this question in light of a power play rather than
cooperation.... Coincidentally, Kofi
Annan has rejected the idea of a rapid return of the UN to Iraq. It is clear that the UN returning to Iraq is
hard to imagine as long as Washington continues to consider that country as its
own personal business.”
"America Does Not Share"
Bernard Guetta remarked on government-run France Inter radio
(12/11): “The...message clearly says
that...the U.S. does not easily forgive when it is offended.... This is the schizophrenic logic of a nation
where one ministry out of two apparently does not understand that alone America
cannot hope to get out of the quagmire it has put itself and the world in.”
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (12/11): "Despite
all statements to the contrary, all sides involved have not yet recovered from
the inner-western clash in Iraq. This is
the only explanation of the Pentagon's disciplinary measure.... We can certainly understand the annoyance in
Washington that it wants to use U.S. money according to its own discretion, but
the reason for the exclusion--the United States must safeguard its security
interests--is grotesque, at least insincere.
But the main thing is that this is a bad policy, which is detrimental to
itself and does not aim at gathering the western partners, old one and new
ones, behind the stabilization project, a move that would be in the interest of
all. On the one hand, the Bush
administration wants material support (from taxpayers money) and a relief of
the military burden, but, on the other hand, it pursues a policy that awards
contracts that uses political and economic sanctions as an instrument. This does not fit. It is bad style and leads to
irreconcilability in the Alliance."
"Revenge Of The Pentagon"
Stefan Kornelius noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (12/11): "Wolfowitz did
not say how U.S. security interests could be violated if a German company
drills wells in Iraq. But with this
remark he again proved what kind of lousy strategist he is.... Of course, it is understandable that the Bush
team in Washington has difficulties with the Schroeder team in Berlin, but
national chauvinism is clearly coming to the fore when taking revenge and when
using a collective punishment that does not differentiate between politics and
the economy, between politicians and peoples.... This Paul Wolfowitz...personifies the hubris,
which made Washington go to war and act against the UN and which, with arrogant
stubbornness, has allowed the disintegration process in Iraq to happen, because
any sign of cooperation, every compromise would be an even greater sign of
"Classical Self-Inflicted Wound"
Washington correspondent Michael Backfisch judged in
business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (12/11): "From a mere legal point of view, this
decision is correct...but small-minded legalism is counterproductive in this
case. The fact that Deputy Secretary
Wolfowitz used 'fundamental U.S. security interests' as a reason for this step
is more than hypocritical.... With
painstaking and detailed diplomatic work, President Bush tried to open the
international money coffers for reconstructing the Gulf. But due to the most recent U.S. decision, the
generosity of the excluded countries will be limited. This is detrimental for Bush's appeal to act
closely in the fight against international terrorism. The U.S. government tore open the old wounds
over the Iraq war--and George W. Bush gave himself a classic self-inficted
"According To The Saddam Principle"
Dietmar Ostermann argued in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter
Rundschau (12/11): "Simple
retaliation is involved in the U.S. move.
It is indeed up to Washington to decide on the use of U.S. taxpayers'
money. This is why the exclusion may be
shortsighted as far as foreign policy is concerned and problematic with respect
to trade policy. The real scandal is not
that German or French companies will only have a chance a sub-contractors in
U.S. financed reconstruction programs in Iraq.
The real scandal is that the Bush administration settles old accounts on
the backs of the Iraqis."
"Who Can Be So Naïve"
Washington correspondent Malte Lehming filed the following
editorial for centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (12/11): "Many arguments could be raised against
the U.S. decree. First, its
arbitrariness.... Second, it is
hypocritical...and third, it widens the transatlantic gap...but the objection
we hear again and again is that the reason should return to international
politics and not the urge for revenge.
But it is not that easy. The Iraq
war inflicted wounds on both sides of the Atlantic. It is not possible to convey to many U.S.
taxpayers, who have to pay the bill of the Iraq war, why Russians, French, and
Germans should now make a profit by helping reconstruct Iraq."
ITALY: "Peace Is Well Worth A Contract"
Boris Biancheri opined in centrist, influential La Stampa
(12/12): "The decision by the U.S. to exclude certain unwelcome countries
from the contracts for Iraqi reconstruction like France, Germany and Russia,
evoked in the respective capitals--and even more so in Brussels--stupefying
indignation. The decision can be evaluated from various points of view: from
the U.S. domestic policy viewpoint it's completely understandable, from a
juridical perspective it's questionable, from a general political standpoint it
not only appears wrong but also contrary to Washington's strategic
interests.... From the perspective of
international law, the decision is dubious. It contradicts the spirit, if not
the letter of the World Trade Organization and the international agreement on
contracts signed by the U.S. in Marrakech.... But where the Americans are most
wrong is in underlining with this gesture the importance of economic aspects
tied to the Iraqi matter and in reserving the benefits for itself and for its
friends. One of the most diffused and deep-rooted leftist clichés which
European public opinion has inherited is that behind the ethical precepts, behind
the mission to bring democracy to the world, the U.S. goal is to colonize the
planet economically. Now, the
stabilization of Middle East and Gulf area, beginning with Iraq, is a
legitimate interest not only of the U.S. but of everyone: it should not be
confused with national interests, as difficult as it is to get an average
American to accept this--even at the cost of sacrificing a few billion dollars
with respect to the many billions of dollars that the Iraqi operation has
"Old Europe and America Clash Again"
Stefano Trincia noted in Rome center-left Il Messaggero
(12/12): "Bush's special envoy James Baker, former Secretary of State and
respected diplomat is leaving for Europe.
He was supposed to discuss with Russia, France, Germany, Italy and Great
Britain the issue regarding the writing-off of the Iraqi debt. Now, with the
U.S. State Department's evident embarrassment and the strong annoyance of the
White House, he will have to soften the counterblows to the U.S. decision to
exclude Paris, Moscow and Berlin from the multi-billion dollar contracts for
the reconstruction.... But President Bush's firmness could not hide the
controversy in the U.S. capital. According to revelations obtained by the New
York Times from State Department sources, Bush is angry with the Pentagon and
particularly with Paul Wolfowitz for having prematurely diffused the edict on
the contracts via Internet."
"This Is How Bush Divides Up The Contracts To Remain At The
Vittorio Zucconi commented in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (12/11): "Those who
were suspicious of the 'idealism' as the motive for the new U.S. policy of
global military projection may find bitter comfort in learning today that
Washington has decided to keep the loot for the reconstruction and from the oil
for themselves and to distribute the crumbs to the auxiliaries and to punish
France, Germany, Russia and Canada, who are all excluded from the post-Saddam
banquet. But we must give this
administration credit for one thing--of having always said so and of having
clearly warned the unruly that to oppose the war would have cost them a high
"In Europe, Astonishment And Indignation"
Mario Maggiore noted in centrist, influential daily La Stampa
(12/11): "Astonishment, indignation
and a query hover about the faces of European diplomats.... What is the meaning and the use of such a
hostile behavior? The Europeans don't
understand. They don't understand why
the U.S. has spent the last few months trying to mend the rift with the Old
Europe due to the Iraqi crisis, trying to re-unite the Atlantic Alliance also
in light of a possible NATO intervention in Iraq, and then, suddenly closing
the door to dialogue in the name of 'U.S. national security.' "
RUSSIA: "The U.S. Risks
Turning Off Allies"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant
(12/11): "The Pentagon's decision
to 'excommunicate the apostates,' countries that refuse to send troops to Iraq,
is nothing out of the ordinary. Even in
the spring, soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, the Pentagon sought
to restrict access to the Iraqi heritage for allies as well as the
apostates. The Pentagon's logic, as
straightforward as any military's, is quite clear. Choosing between stick and carrot in its relations
with the new Entente, the United States has picked the former. But it is far from certain that the renegades
will be so scared, they will rush to toe the line drawn by Donald Rumsfeld and
his assistant Paul Wolfowitz, the guy at the Iraqi pork barrel tap.... Were the new Entente [of France, Germany and
Russia] suddenly to accept Paul Wolfowitz's rules it would have to forego the
principles it stands for in the UN. It
won't do that, of course. As for the
United States, which prefers stick to carrot, it risks turning off the allies
and being left to handle Iraq on its own.
It is a big question, who is going to lose in the end."
"The U.S. May Lose Support"
Aleksey Tikhonov remarked in reformist Izvestiya
(12/11): "The United States may
lose support from the international community once and for all."
Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer commented in liberal Der
Standard (12/11): "The critics
of the war in Iraq have been debating for a while now whether they should
‘help’ the Americans in Iraq, or whether the U.S. should be left to face the
music, which it has brought about more or less by itself, on its own.... The conclusion usually was that a failure of
the U.S. in Iraq would have far too dramatic consequences for the entire
international community, and thus should not be allowed to happen, let alone be
gloated over. After the war, a fresh
start seemed to be the only way forward, especially in transatlantic relations,
and similar signals also came from Washington.
That was obviously a misconception.
The members of the anti-war camp are now being punished by the U.S. for
their opinion--which in the meantime has been confirmed--that the threat
constituted by Iraq was not a sufficient reason for the war. Free competition, free markets, yes, definitely--but
not for unruly countries that dared to disagree with U.S. politics.... It has always been clear that the lion’s
share of the Iraq business is going to go to the U.S. anyway. This new affront to drive home the message
was thus doubly unnecessary."
Chief commentator Paul Geudens commented in conservative
Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (12/11): “Iraq must be rebuilt. However, the cost is much higher than the
American citizens can afford and, consequently, the government is looking for
foreign sponsors of military and financial means. The announcement that companies from
non-coalition countries are excluded from contracts in Iraq must be seen in
that framework. Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz said it openly.
It is a measure ‘to urge countries to join the coalition.’ That is pure blackmail. One can find that arrogant and
discriminating, but is it not incomprehensible.
Almost every day the Americans see body bags with dead American
soldiers. They are also paying an
extremely high price for the war.
Therefore, they would not accept that companies from countries that do
not want to have anything to do with the war are making money from it. An American president would not be able to
explain that to his voters. That
"Rather A Stick Than A Carrot"
Deputy chief editor Bart Sturtewagen held in Christian-Democrat De
Standaard (12/11): “Countries
that refused to join the U.S.-led coalition against Saddam Hussein must not
count on lucrative contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq. That is the message from Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz.... In his view,
it is a matter of national security. Above
all, however, it is a means to make legal action against this decision
difficult. A blunt refusal to allow competition
might be challenged in American courts as well as in the WTO.... It shows again that when things really matter
the Bush administration opts for the stick, rather than for the carrot. It prefers to wrest cooperation from other
parties, instead of trying to obtain it via diplomatic means. It is the style of the house and there is no
improvement in sight.... Diplomatically,
Washington is making a blunder. The
goodwill that could be created by an open competition for the reconstruction of
Iraq is essential. Since the fall of
Baghdad eight months ago, the American regime in Iraq has changed its mind four
times.... The Americans must realize
that they will be the biggest losers if the situation [in Iraq] derails. That should make them understand that they
must seize every chance to tear down the walls between the camps that were
created by the war. Again, one of those
opportunities was not exploited.”
CROATIA: "Time For
Jurica Korbler commented in Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik
(12/12): "The Pentagon's
retaliation obviously hasn't arrived at the right moment. Through painstaking diplomatic action, step
by step, America has been attempting to mollify its would-be allies and the
United Nations to get involved in reconstruction of Iraq, and both sides have
accepted it with a sour smile.... Bush
could thus start losing many allies one by one, and be accused of setting in
motion war machinery with the goal of securing good business deals after the
war. On the other hand, Pentagon
creators of this decision claim that time has come to reward those who have
borne the largest brunt. The Iraqi knot
is getting more and more complicated and entangled every day, and the
Pentagon's decision certainly does not contribute to forgetting the old
antagonisms. Retaliations and revenge
are what America now needs the least."
The center right, populist Irish Independent (12/12): "At the height of the invasion of Iraq,
Mr. Ahern seemed to eschew his normal constructive ambiguity to declare that he
'presumes' Ireland is one of the 15 countries 'assisting' the U.S. in the
Gulf.... But last night as it emerged
that Ireland was not on the list, and so not in a position to pitch for contracts
in Iraq, Mr. Ahern was unabashed.
Despite exciting the wrath of more than 100,000 anti-war demonstrators
in the capital and allowing Shannon to be used by the U.S. for refueling, he
was adamant: 'Didn't I oppose the war throughout? It was just a few people who didn't really
understand and who believed I was supporting the war'.... A ban at Shannon would have cost us
dearly. It was quite simply pragmatism
over principle. It would have been some
trick to have passed ourselves off as having been both for and against the war
FINLAND: "Reward And
Finland's largest regional daily, right-of-center Aamulehti
editorialized (12/11): "While the
U.S. can use its tax dollars any way it wants, dividing countries into sheep
and wolves is an unfortunate precedent.
The pattern here is: if you are
not with us, you are against us and will suffer."
NORWAY: "The True Face
Of The Occupant"
Independent Dagbladet commented (12/11): “Paul Wolfowitz used 'national security
reasons' as an argument for the blacklisting.
This is a ridiculous accusation.
The fact is that the U.S. wants to revenge itself on countries that didn’t
wag their tails when Saddam Hussein was to be thrown out of office.... If anyone were in doubt before, Wolfowitz’s
announcement shows that the U.S. is simply an occupying power in Iraq and
nothing else.... Did anyone speak about
introducing democracy in Iraq?”
POLAND: "From Politics
To Money And Vice Versa"
Robert Soltyk wrote in liberal Gazeta
Wyborcza (12/12): “Washington has
toughened its tone on the Iraq contracts because its European allies had left
unanswered its appeal for increased presence of NATO in Iraq.… When diplomatic
efforts failed, the proponents of a ‘tougher course’ in the U.S. gained the
upper hand, convinced that blackmail would be the best method to deal with the
E.U. The Americans, however, still make
it clear that they are ready to allow the Union to the Iraq contracts if it
supports the idea of NATO’s bigger involvement in Iraq.”
"Empty Gesture Or Something Else"
Editor-in-chief Grzegorz Jankowski noted in tabloid Fakt
(12/11): “The Americans showed to their critics that they may have to bear the
consequences of their policy [choices].
It is a positive signal.
Politics, international politics also, lacks responsibility. I wonder, though, whether the Americans will
prove equally tough when it comes to rewarding their most faithful allies. Poland still hopes to get Iraqi
contracts. As well, we have been
pleading in vain for the lifting of American visas. Should it turn out that nothing comes out of
this, Wolfowitz’s statement will be an empty gesture. What use is criticizing the opponents if
friends get nothing?”
"Bush's Circumstantial Friends"
Foreign policy analyst Carmen Avram opined in the financial
oriented Ziarul Financiar (12/12):
“As we could expect, George Bush is now living the apogee of his
satisfaction. At his feet, France,
Germany and Russia are waiting, with their hands stretched out for a piece of
the cake that the American President is waving under their noses.... It’s just a blackmail invented by the
president’s vengeful mind. Is it
childish? Of course. What seems really incredible is the authentic
shock of the three countries. As if they
hadn't been told. As if they didn't
know.… I wonder if we, President Bush's circumstantial friends, should be
relaxed in the temporary comfort offered by the incumbent American
administration? Isn't it clear that, at
the first false tone in a speech, at the first incident in which we won't follow
the U.S., we will be doomed to the same fate?
Being annulled, scolded, chased away, blamed, ignored by the Republican
from Texas.… Bush is a President who had
lost contact with reality.… Life, peace, friendship are not integrated in the
values that he believes in.”
In the financial oriented Ziarul Financiar, foreign policy
analyst Mirela Luca opined (12/11): “The
U.S. decision may launch a new dispute inside NATO and the UN Security
Council. The countries known for their
hostility against American policy in Iraq, who had refused to send troops, were
excluded from direct contracts. In this
situation, important countries, such as France, Germany, Russia, Canada will be
able, at best, to obtain subcontracts, more precisely, only part of the
executed contracts.... By limiting the
access to the Iraqi reconstruction contracts, the American authorities are
favoring Great Britain, Italy and Spain, which have sent troops to Iraq, and
whose companies were excluded in the first round, for the benefit of American
"On Whose Side"
Sasa Vidmajer opined in left-of-center Delo (12/12): “Since February, the U.S. included Slovenia
in the 'coalition of the willing' and it seemed that there was no way out. No matter how Slovenia explained [the
circumstances related to the V-10 Protocol], it could not escape from
it.... The Slovene PM distanced himself
from V-10, but the U.S. Department of State denied his statement with a
sneer. Slovenia even refused the
dollars, which Americans--faithfully following the principle that there is no
such thing as a free lunch--wanted to give to us. Only last summer and autumn, once all 'new
European' countries except Slovenia more or less symbolically participated in
the occupation of Iraq, it became evident that Slovenia was a stain in the
group photo of the East which is madly in love with the U.S.... Slovenia should feel relieved with its being
excluded from the list this time. For
Slovenia, this is the longed-for escape....
It is high time for Slovenia to profile itself as the only 'new
European' country with a pro-European position.”
"The Pentagon Is Dividing The Spoils Of War"
Left-of-center Dnevnik observed (12/11): “[The list] demonstrates what critics of the
military deposing of Saddam Hussein have been repeating: that democracy, human
rights, and international security were just a decoration on a big barrel of
oil.… Slovenia--with its indecisiveness--had evaded the Congress'...and the
government's...punishment...but it could not avoid the more orthodox Pentagon,
which did not pardon Slovenia for its fence sitting by having signed the V-10
declaration.… Like the United States, France, Germany, and Russia had had their
plans in Iraq. No one has ever believed
that [France, Germany and Russia] have just been defending the international
law and supporting a bigger role for the United Nations. They have more than
once demonstrated that their actual power - or lack thereof - is the only thing
that separates them from American imperial logic.… And Slovenia? Only SCT (Slovene
road-construction company) has some reason to be sorry.… The rest is just
policy. The Iraqi policy led by the Slovene Government and the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs failed entirely. It
failed to such a degree that Slovenia had supported the pillage of the
self-appointed liberators, but remained empty handed when the spoils were distributed. Slovenia also deserves to be punished by the
other side in order to pay the appropriate price for its unprincipled
SPAIN: "Reserved Contracts"
Centrist La Vanguardia asserted (12/12): “The U.S. President is possibly right, but it
is evident that the Pentagon’s decision...arrives at a especially delicate
moment, when Washington is trying to get an international agreement for
reorganizing the Iraqi debt, which is estimated at $125 billion
approximately. Moreover, the exclusion
of the awards because of plainly political reasons may contravene international
laws. Specifically, it may infringe on
the regulations laid down by WTO on the matter.
Another legal slap for the U.S. at that organization, after the one
relative to the dispute on steel tariffs--subsequently ended--would be
particularly embarrassing for Washington.…
The row is taking place in the environment of general suspicion about
the defense of specific private interests by Washington, which has accompanied
this war from the beginning.”
"Reconstructing Iraq By Adding"
Conservative ABC remarked (12/11): "The inflexible severity with which U.S.
policy was criticized is now exacting a price.... Anyway, it seems evident that the definitive
pacification of Iraq needs a keen strategy which tries to alleviate the
tensions of the past. The United States
and Europe should attain a total understanding which safeguards the full
stability of Iraq. Without stability,
the future of the country and the region will be seriously threatened. That is why it is an inevitable priority
attaining consensus on this subject....
The decision announced by Paul Wolfowitz...threatens to revive the
upheaval which was starting to be, at last, left behind.... The formula to participate in [the contracts]
admits a gradation. [Participation] does
not have to be decided radically and with roughness.... Generosity is sometimes a diplomatic tool
which should be administered with intelligence and subtlety. Above all when what is at stake is the
victory of the allied strategy in Iraq and, with it, in the whole Middle
Left-of-center El País held (12/11): "The decision has been announced by Paul
Wolfowitz, and has confirmed that the worst 'hawks' of the Defense Department
are leading U.S. foreign policy. (This policy) maintains the tendency to the
use of force that distinguishes the Bush Administration and causes a rift
between a big country and a huge part of the planet that felt solidarity after
September 11. Wolfowitz's pretext is also
startling: the defense of the U.S. 'essential security interest'. It is also regrettable that the U.S. that
proclaims itself as advocate of free trade should limit the business in a third
country.... Due to the chaotic situation
in Irtaw. U.S. needs to increase its alliances.... With new slaps it won't be
possible to stanch the wounds of this conflict and to repair a consensus that
will let the UN to assume the
pacification in Iraq, the recovery of the sovereignty and the
democratization.... Aznar's justifying
with a participation in the sharing of the booty, a policy which most of the
country (Spain) opposed to and which causes death and anguish, does not show
ethical and political leadership."
TUNISIA: "The Cake Of Discord"
An editorial by editor-in-chief, Chokri Baccouche, in independent
French-language Le Quotidien (12/12) stated: "The U.S. decision to
bar opponents to the war from (reconstruction) contracts generated outrage in
Europe. Hence, France, Russia and
Germany, considered as fierce opponents to the war in Iraq, are reaping
Washington's economic revenge. These kinds of expected U.S.
reprisals...represent a new excess on the part of the Hawks in the American
administration.... The U.S. that
proclaims to be a champion of free trade competition has decided to 'violate'
the rules that govern international trade. The Iraqi pie, which arouses so much
greediness, has become a tool of pressure in the hands of the U.S.
administration's hawks. This decision risks increasingly harming the chances of
restoring a weak and chaotic country.... It is in the U.S. interest to review
its decision in order to achieve an efficient reconstruction of the country.
Iraq should not be used as a way to raise the stakes and to jeopardize the
fragile peace and stability of an unstable world."
CHINA: "Unilateralism Hurts Iraq Reconstruction"
Hu Xuan commented on the official English-language newspaper China
Daily (12/12): "Alienating its
major allies, the U.S. on Wednesday vigorously defended the decision, contained
in a Pentagon memo, to formally bar firms from France, Germany, Russia and
other war opponents from prime contracts for Iraqi reconstruction projects.
With the schism within the world body over the rights and wrongs of using force
in Iraq still pervasive, the policy was simply another example of the Bush
administration's unilateralism that does nothing to help heal the deep wounds
left by the war. The decision was in
sharp contrast with the Bush administration recent efforts to solicit
international support for rebuilding Iraq....
It is selfish that Washington has been lobbying other countries into
paying the bills of the financially draining reconstruction work, while
attempting to keep its dominant role in the war-torn country."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Favoritism Undermines Iraqi Reconstruction"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
stated (12/11): "This time last
year U.S. President George W. Bush was preparing for war, pushing regime change
as the official policy on Iraq and building what he called a coalition of the
willing - a list of countries that would back military action even if the
United Nations did not endorse it. This
week's announcement that lucrative reconstruction contracts would be open only
to those allies that have supported America's Iraqi campaign would seem to be
the reward for such support.... The pity is that the list excludes a number of
countries that have a history of working in Iraq and could contribute greatly
to the rebuilding effort. It also
represents a step backwards in the U.S. effort to put a more international face
on the reconstruction effort. Rather
than seizing a prime opportunity to increase the credibility of American
administration of the country, the White House seems intent on reinforcing the
message that the U.S. is determined to create a moral and economic world order
of its own, with rewards only for those nations that jump on the bandwagon.... If the U.S. wanted to bring credibility to
the efforts to restore Iraqi infrastructure and to help the people become
self-reliant, it would try harder to avoid the impression that diplomatic
favoritism or cosy arrangements have more sway than competitive bidding and
professional qualifications. Indeed,
this is especially necessary when the funds will be coming from the United
Nations, international donors and U.S. taxpayers."
INDONESIA: "Let Us Batter Iraq"
Muslim-intellectual Republika commented
(12/12): “This is what we call looting: The U.S. is distributing Iraq
reconstruction projects among its allies only.… Where do the funds come
from? From Iraq’ oil that is now fully
under U.S. control, or from the loans from second or third parties that the
Iraqi people later must repay.… That is
to say, the Iraqi people have to suffer because their country has been
devastated by all kinds of bombs...and now they have to pay dearly to rebuild
it.… Therefore, the many reasons for the
invasion that the U.S. keeps raising are nothing more than a reason to hide
their evil intention: draining Iraq’s oil to the extent that the people will be
crippled and always dependent on the U.S.”
INDIA: "Shake Your
The nationalist Hindustan Times
(12/12): "If there was one thing
the U.S. could have done without in Iraq, it was to add to its problems of
getting international involvement in the war-ravaged country. But then, going by the arrogance with which
George W. Bush decided to bar countries opposed to the Iraq war from bidding
for reconstruction contracts worth over $18 billion, the American president
doesn't seem to think there's any problem in the first place. That the fine print in the Pentagon directive
does let other countries (read: those who opposed the U.S.-led invasion of
Iraq) to act as 'subcontractors' may be too little--and too late--to do much by
way of damage control. For one thing,
this puts the U.S. in an embarrassing situation as Washington tries to explain
to its strategic allies like Israel--and potential trade partners like
China--why they are off the exclusive list, when countries like Uganda and
Samoa can compete for contracts. For
another, the flames of anger this policy fans in Russia, France and Germany is
bound to take quite a bit of diplomatic fire-fighting to douse. It's curious that Mr. Bush decided to cut out
those very countries that could have contributed to the largely isolated
American effort in the desert. If,
indeed, he thinks that domestic support for the unilateral American occupation
of Iraq is on the upswing--as some polls indicate--he's mistaken. Because
whatever Foggy Bottom's promises about the best deals in Iraq going to U.S.
companies, it will still be American taxpayers who must wonder why they have to
pay for the Iraqi imbroglio."
"India Shut Out"
Washington-based K.P. Nayar averred in the centrist Telegraph
(12/11): "India, along with leading opponents of the war in Iraq...has
been barred from contracts worth $18.6 billion to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure,
which are to be awarded by the Americans shortly. In a memo issued by Deputy Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz...but made public...the Bush Administration has claimed
that the exclusion is necessary to protect 'the essential security interests of
the U.S. Wolfowitz made it clear that
reconstruction bids are also being used as carrots to get more countries to
contribute troops to Iraq and to ensure that governments which have already
sent troops do not buckle in the face of continuing death and mayhem created by
insurgents opposed to U.S. occupation.... The U.S. decision drew stinging
criticism from countries that have been made ineligible for participation in
the rebuilding effort.... India has not yet commented on the U.S. decision, but
Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov showed what could be a model for India to
follow. Ivanov threatened that Russia would not restructure the debt owed by
Baghdad to Moscow, as sought by Washington.... The U.S. is expected to ask
India to write off the money it is owed by Iraq when presidential envoy James
Baker travels to Delhi shortly.... India
has pledged its taxpayer's money for humanitarian work in Iraq."
"Plunder Of Iraq"
The editorial carried in the state-owned New Vision held
(12/12): "The U.S. government has
said that only companies from the United States and coalition countries will be
able to take on reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Initially 26 contracts worth US$ 19billion
are at stake but the ultimate cost of reconstruction is likely to be much
higher. French and German companies have
been specifically excluded from tendering because the Americans allege that
they would be a security risk. What a lame excuse! France, German and Russia were historically
big players in Iraq and it could have been cheaper to get their companies to
rehabilitate the infrastructure that they originally constructed. Furthermore the USA has been trying to
persuade these three countries to write off tens of billions of dollars of debt
owed to them by Iraq. Debt write-off is
now a non-starter after this slap in the face. Other countries excluding from
tendering have contributed to the reconstruction effort. Will they now withdraw
their funding? It looks as though the
USA and Britain want to recover the cost of the Iraq invasion by steering juicy
contracts to their own companies.
Moreover several members of the Bush administration are shareholders in
favored companies like Halliburton that are already taking up contracts in
Iraq. The American government needs to
revisit this issue and allow companies from outside the United States and
Britain to tender for reconstruction contracts. It is Iraqi oil that will pay
and surely Iraq is entitled to award contracts to the cheapest compliant tender."
CANADA: "Canada Has No Call On Iraq Contracts"
Columnist Marcus Gee commented in the leading Globe and Mail
(12/12): "Let me try to understand
this: Canada sat on the sidelines as its greatest friend went to war against a
vicious tyranny in Iraq, and now it's offended that Canadian companies
might not get to take part in Iraq's reconstruction? Come on, Canada. It is the
Americans and their allies who are fighting and dying in Iraq. It is the United
States that is putting up most of the tens of billions of dollars needed to
rebuild the place. Is it so outrageous for Washington to say that only
companies from the United States and allied countries will get the right to bid
on reconstruction contacts?... To suggest that Canada should get equal status
with countries whose soldiers are coming home in body bags is chutzpah on a
grand scale.... Well, let's be clear. Ottawa sent troops to Afghanistan at
least in part so it wouldn't have to send troops to Iraq. With our soldiers
tied up in the Afghan mission, Ottawa can say to Washington: Hey, we'd love to
come help you in Iraq, but we have a previous engagement. Very convenient....
As for our non-military aid to Iraq, Canada has spent $225-million so far -- a
tidy sum, but a raindrop in the sand compared with the more than $80-billion
that Washington plans to spend just for starters. The fact is that Canada
stayed out of the war in Iraq and has stayed out of the postwar fight as well.
Right or wrong, that decision has consequences.... Essentially, then, the message to the United
States from Canada and the other anti-war countries is this: We won't put a
single one of our soldiers at risk to help you rebuild Iraq, but we demand that
our companies get a share in profits. The nerve, to use Mr. Manley's term, is
"Figure It Out, Paul"
The conservative tabloid Calgary Sun commented(12/11): "Paul Martin is in the dark. He can't 'fathom' a U.S. decision to bar
Canadian firms and those of other countries that refused to participate militarily
in Iraq from bidding on $18 billion worth of reconstruction projects
there. We have a feeling most Canadians
would be happy to shed light on the situation for our soon-to-be prime
minister.... It is one thing to refuse
to participate in the U.S. action in Iraq.
Quite another to go out of your way to insult and antagonize a country
with which Canada has enjoyed such a long and strong bond.... Certainly, the war was controversial with
Americans themselves, but the images of their young men and women dying are
difficult to erase.... Granted, it is a
little confusing the U.S. cited 'essential security interests' of the U.S. in
refusing to allow a nation like ours to bid for contracts, when a hotbed of
terrorism like Saudi Arabia is on the list of those which can bid. And given the fact our soldiers are on the
frontlines of 'the war on terrorism' in Afghanistan, we can understand how
deeply the U.S. blacklist cuts with many Canadians. This is an alarming signal of just how low
relations have sunk between our two countries.
Instead of feigning astonishment, Martin must acknowledge we have a very
serious problem here and make it a top priority when he takes over as prime
"The Iraq (Bidding)
The conservative National Post judged (Internet version,
12/11): "Magnanimity in victory is
laudable. Unfortunately, when it comes
to awarding infrastructure contracts in post-Saddam Iraq, Washington isn't
displaying much of it.... From a moral
point of view, there is some basis to the exclusion: having refused to risk our soldiers for the
liberation of Iraq, it is perhaps fitting that we will profit little from the
industrial boom taking place in its wake.
On the other hand, it is plainly ridiculous to argue that involving
Canada--a close military ally of the United States--in Iraq's reconstruction
would compromise America's 'essential security interests.' Moreover, the fiat gives false credence to
leftist conspiracy theorists who argued the Iraq war was merely an indirect
means to subsidize Mr. Bush's corporate pals.
Despite all this, we hope Canada will take the high road. John Manley, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister,
has...hinted Ottawa might reconsider the $250-million we've promised in
reconstruction aid. Reneging on this pledge
would be a mistake.... Surely, the
success of Iraq is no less important just because our companies are in
Washington's bad books."
"U.S. Slaps At Friends"
The liberal Toronto Star observed (Internet version,
12/11): "U.S. President George
Bush...has chosen a graceless way to welcome incoming Prime Minister Paul
Martin, punishing Canada for being a principled ally and even implying that we're
a threat to U.S. 'security interests.'...
We don't deserve to be stiffed for our principles, or bribed to park
them at the door. Just this week, U.S.
ambassador Paul Cellucci praised us for our 'pretty significant' help in
Afghanistan and for being 'quite generous' with Iraq aid. He had reason. Canada has earmarked $10 billion to carry our
share of North America's military defence and security after 9/11. Our troops fought and died in Afghanistan
with our U.S. ally. Some 2,000 Canadian soldiers are in Kabul now, leading the
force there. And Ottawa has budgeted
$300 million directly to help rebuild Iraq, at Washington's request. Yet that's not enough for Bush, it
seems. He demanded our moral
acquiescence to his unnecessary war and now seeks our participation in an
increasingly violent occupation. To
this, Martin can have only one answer:
Canadians won't be browbeaten, bullied or bought. But nor should we react with Bush-style
pettiness to this inept insult. Deputy
Prime Minister John Manley suggests we may reconsider our $300 million aid.
That would only hurt Iraqis, who have suffered enough.... Let's spend the money as planned. That said, Ottawa should feel no compulsion
to send troops, police or other personnel to Iraq to help extricate Bush from
the quagmire he has encountered there....
And the next contribution Canada makes to Iraq's rebuilding should be to
a duly elected Iraqi government, not to a puppet regime run by people who can't
tell friends from foes."
Irritated Because U.S. Prevents It From Doing Business In Iraq"
Araceli Viceconte, Berlin-based correspondent for leading Clarín,
wrote (12/11): "Germany, France, Russia and Canada were shocked by the
U.S. decision to exclude their companies from the reconstruction of Iraq in
blunt retaliation for having opposed war.... Far from apologizing, the White
House defended its decision through its spokesperson Scott McClellan. Rather
than a punishment, the exclusion of 'rebels' is a sort of forced invitation to
cooperate. In fact, the strategy has already been successful because 'allied'
countries are sending an increasing number of troops to Iraq, while the U.S.
maintains its number of troops in 120 thousand. Even McClellan himself
underscored that whoever wants to participate should make a military
contribution.... The collection of money
for the reconstruction of Iraq is making slow progress. Until now, only 600
million dollars were collected out of the three billion dollars promised in the
conference of donors held in Madrid. The U.S. urgently needs the money because
its military expenditure continues increasing."
"About Toads And Scorpions"
Marcelo Cantelmi, international editor of leading Clarin,
commented (12/11): "If the game is reaching extremes, where exaggeration
prevails, the U.S. decision to leave aside Europeans from the reconstruction of
Iraq wins the prize by far.... The White House is bogged down in a swamp. The Gulf Campaign is everything but
successful. The possibility to break unilateralt in search of consensus aimed
at alleviating the disaster before it continues refueling, would be a sacrifice
for the sake of intelligence. Some bridge to do it is reconstruction. But there
is something that goes beyond the borders of common sense: this business was
not planned to be shared. It is like the fable of the scorpion that stings and
kills the toad no matter if it is carrying it on its back to the pond. The
scorpion could not help it: it is in its nature."
BRAZIL: "Bush Counter-Attack"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (12/11):
"Retaliation took some time but it has come: the U.S. has excluded
companies from nations that did not participate in the war in Iraq from bidding
on the reconstruction of the country's infrastructure.... Only U.S. companies
and those of Iraq and of 61 nations considered 'partners of the coalition' can
bid on the US$18.6 billion worth of contracts.... The decision affects nations
important to U.S. relations, such as France, Germany, Russia and Canada. Brazil,
which came out against the war, has been excluded too. The document [signed by
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz] creates particular unease when it
states that the decision is justified by the 'U.S.'s essential interests in
regards to security.' The text does not explain, however, why the companies of
the excluded nations would represent a threat.... At a moment when the U.S.
needs to increase support for the occupation [and is] seeking more troops and
resources, to revive the animosities that preceded the attack -- instead of
letting them heal over -- would not seem to be the best policy."
Business-oriented El Financiero stated (12/11): “The decision of the U.S. government to
exclude from the reconstruction of Iraq the companies of those countries that
in March opposed at the U.N. the invasion of this Arab country is--even though
the White House and the Department of Defense deny it--a clearly punitive
measure in contradiction of statements made by President Bush (at the U.N.
General Assembly) when he called upon the international community to overcome
their differences and work for the good of Iraq.”