All this will cost money. Will enough be found? America has only recently created a body to co-ordinate ideas for relief and reconstruction. NGOs complain that they have hardly been consulted, and UN agencies, their plans drawn up, remain strapped for funds. There is no hint yet of an international civilian force to do the kind of policing that American troops cannot. And the shallowness of world support for America may mean that too little aid will appear. Friends gave America $54 billion to pay for the last Gulf war. It will be lucky to get a fraction of that this time.
How much money will be needed? The Congressional Budget Office estimates the annual cost of peacekeepers at $250,000 a head. This puts the price for maintaining 100,000 foreign troops in Iraq at $25 billion a year, as much as the country's GDP. Immediate humanitarian aid for 5m people—a low estimate, given the numbers already on food rations—could cost $500 a head, for a total of $2.5 billion. Rebuilding basic infrastructure to the standard Iraq enjoyed in 1990 comes to another $25 billion. Throw in the reconstruction of institutions, from schools and hospitals to universities and museums, and the price-tag grows to $100 billion.
Ah, but Iraq has oil. True, and plenty of it. The trouble is that it is in the ground, and the infrastructure to move it is sadly battered, even if Mr Hussein ignores the option of torching his own wells. Current exports of 2.5m barrels a day (b/d) earn over $15 billion a year. Experts say raising this by 1m b/d will need an investment of at least $7 billion. Reaching 6m b/d—an ambitious target—would take more than another $20 billion and as much as ten years. At that level, Iraq could begin to pay for its own rapid development. It might even be able to pay some of its existing debt, which is estimated at anything between $60 billion and $140 billion. But with so many claims on oil revenue, relatively little may be reinvested in production.
Since Iraq's reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's, foreign firms will rush to invest; but only if the place is stable and the terms attractive. The rewards, moreover, will come only in the longer term, meaning a painful stretch when Iraqi expectations and the harsh reality will remain far apart.
The Bush folks are big on attitude, weak on strategy and terrible at diplomacy. I covered the first gulf war, in 1990-91. What I remember most are the seven trips I took with Secretary of State James A. Baker III around the world to watch him build — face-to-face — the coalition and public support for that war, before a shot was fired. Going to someone else's country is a sign you respect his opinion. This Bush team has done no such hands-on spade work. Its members think diplomacy is a phone call.
As President Bush continues charting his Team B path, bringing the Cheney/Wolfowitz/Libby 1992 draft plan to fruition, there will likely be many more times where the son diverges far from where his dad would take the nation. In the March 10 issue of Time, the former president Bush recalls that "the night before [the Gulf War] I could not move my neck or arms. The tension had taken hold, the responsibility for those lives, even though I had been in combat myself." His son, who has never been in combat and even has a somewhat disconcerting (if seldom discussed) missing year in his service with the Air National Guard, recently told reporters that he's been sleeping well at night, sustained by people's prayers, which he called "the kindest act a fellow citizen can do for anybody, much less the president." The two have extremely different personalities and temperaments; and now they represent divergent schools of Republican foreign policy.
On Iraq and the Anglo-American alliance, the British prime minister has got it absolutely right: He is pursuing the true national interest of Great Britain, which is to stand at the side of the Great Republic, as my grandfather was fond of calling the land of his mother's birth.
The country was forged by the British, who lost 20,000 troops capturing three neglected Ottoman provinces that were known to be rich in oil. Colonial administrators assumed they could bypass rural chieftains and the urban Sunni elite to impose representative government. A tribal revolt in 1920, suppressed only with mustard gas, convinced them otherwise. The British-backed monarchy, having largely reinstated the old class order, survived until 1958. Three coups later, Saddam Hussein consolidated power with a mixture of oil money, cunning and ruthlessness.
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