Join 3,376 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Iraqi Reconstruction Contracts
December 9, 2003 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Iraq Reconstruction Contracts Limited To Coalition Countries In a Determination & Findings[pdf] document dated Dec. 5, the Administration outlines why it is "essential" to national security to limit New-Texas reconstruction contracts to companies based in pro-iraq-war countries. As expected, the terrorist-led corporations of Canada, Germany, France, Russian and China are not allowed to bid. (Despite years of previous work in Iraq for many of these companies). Hello Halliburton, goodbye Schlumberger. Mr Bush, is this uniting or dividing?
posted by H. Roark (85 comments total)

 
New Texas, is this anything like Neo Tokyo?
posted by the fire you left me at 6:11 PM on December 9, 2003


Oh, I absolutely agree that those countries' corporations should be allowed to bid, the very minute that those countries contribute an equal amount to the costs of both overthrowing their friend Saddam, and the reconstruction. They needn't even send troops, just money. Fair is fair and all.

And, of course, with *new* contracts, not the sweetheart deals they signed with Saddam. But come to think of it, hasn't the provisional government of Iraq already told these buggers to sod off?
posted by kablam at 6:15 PM on December 9, 2003


Brief commentary from Josh Marshall.
posted by tingley at 6:20 PM on December 9, 2003


Just another in an endless line of mistakes--and the Baker "job" is another. How is this possibly going to work out when one hand is amputating the other hand?
posted by amberglow at 6:31 PM on December 9, 2003


It was my beli4ef, and I may be wrong, that a good reason that France and a few other friends were unwilling to join up with us in our Iraq enterprise was that they had money invested, involved in Iraq and did not want to lose it. Now we have gone ahead and guess what? to the victor belongs the spoils...They did not play. Now the don't get pay....fair? nah. But then, they were seemingly filled with self-9nterest so we played the same game. Game theory: tit for tat.
posted by Postroad at 6:38 PM on December 9, 2003


Oh, I absolutely agree that those countries' corporations should be allowed to bid, the very minute that those countries contribute an equal amount to the costs of both overthrowing their friend Saddam, and the reconstruction. They needn't even send troops, just money. Fair is fair and all.

You are cutting off your nose to spite your face. Americans should be outraged that their government is isn't using a fully free competitive international market in order to ensure that their tax dollars are being spent effectively.

Reconstruction and democratization will cost a fortune. Shouldn't you being trying to minimize the expense while maximizing outcomes using free trade?

But hey it's your money. How's the U.S. dollar doing again?
posted by srboisvert at 6:43 PM on December 9, 2003


Now we have gone ahead and guess what? to the victor belongs the spoils...

Spoils?
posted by NewBornHippy at 6:50 PM on December 9, 2003


Now we have gone ahead and guess what? to the victor belongs the spoils...
Spoils?


Or I should rather say: Gone ahead? Victor? Spoils?
posted by NewBornHippy at 6:52 PM on December 9, 2003


That old Bush interview is interesting. Here's a quote:

... I showed the people of Texas that I'm a uniter, not a divider. I refuse to play the politics of putting people into groups and pitting one group against another.

And then, of course:
"You're either with us or against us"
posted by Espoo2 at 6:57 PM on December 9, 2003


If policy is uneven and shaky now, I wonder to what extent the Bush team will unravel as it points all attention toward re-election in the coming year.
posted by the fire you left me at 7:21 PM on December 9, 2003


And, of course, with *new* contracts, not the sweetheart deals they signed with Saddam.

Oh, bullshit, kablam. Now, why didn't you mention the American firms that have had cozy little deals with Saddam right along?

More ignorant right-wing bashing of the rest of the world....the vast majority of the world that rightly wouldn't go along with Bush's craven little chickenhawk preemptive invasion. And now Bush's business buddies are making a different kind of kiling in Iraq? Do tell. Surprise, surprise. What was that protest slogan again? No blood for oil?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:29 PM on December 9, 2003


Just caught another little point: those same nations are being pressured by James Baker to forgive Iraq's debts, which Saddam made in the first place by buying ARMS from France, Germany and Russia and making sweetheart OIL deals.

So let me get this straight. FGR behave like utter money grubbing scums, *and* expect to still get their "cut", even though the game was raided, AND want to get a "piece of the action" in a new game.

I suggest these worthless worms, who were willing to let millions suffer under a vicious tyrant for MONEY, bow their heads and apologize to everyone in the world for being such utter swine. The French, in particular, should be ashamed.
posted by kablam at 7:38 PM on December 9, 2003


A few things to munch:

1) Conflicts of interest in getting those who are still trying to collect on Saddam's debts. Any possibility they might help the Ba'athists regain power so that they could get those debts paid back? Think: totalfinaelf. And if you don't know what that is, do a web search.

2) It's not so much a case of "to the victor goes the spoils" as "we don't trust those who demonstrated that they are against us." The articles I've seen about this suggest that one way to make amends and to show that a country is serious about the reconstruction and not just trying to hamper

3) Ask yourself, you mighty arbiters of all that's right and uniting-and-not-dividing why you're here carping away on which megacorporation gets billions of dollars rather than over here listening to an Iranian tell you about the trouble that Iran is facing, and asking you to pay attention. Hint - in the comments over there, I spell it out for you. And you all have nicely proven my point. Thanks. It feels warm and fuzzy to be vindicated. Except, you know, for the creepy feeling that what I'm right about makes me sick to my stomache.
posted by swerdloff at 7:39 PM on December 9, 2003


Naomi Klein gave a little insight on this issue regardling international law around a country's resources when occupied by a foreign power - decisions made with Hague Regulations of 1907 - sort of a sequel to the Geneva Convention. I also was gonna post this here but put it over at WarFi re: other enraging bullshit regarding Iraq's debt restructuring by James Baker.

On preview: Yeah - what kablam said.
posted by ao4047 at 7:54 PM on December 9, 2003


swerdloff, there is bad shit happening every day all over the world. Censorship is bad. Undoubtedly, Iraq was probably a crummy place to live for many people during Saddam's rule. What I find so disgusting about US policy towards Iraq is that it is not and never was about lifting oppression for the iraqi people. Bush made it very clear; this is about US security, the WMD, the al-queda ties etc. The bait-switch move to liberating the Iraqi people really only became the party line once it was painfully evident that the WMD story was totally bunk.

The current move to not let foreign countries bid on contracts extends this belief. It is not hard to believe that Schlumberger, who built much of the oil infrastructure, could get things going faster than Halliburton. It is not hard to believe that all the Russian telecom equipment could be better fixed by a Russian company. If it were really about making Iraq better for its people, this is a poor choice. But as I said, its not about the people.

Therefore, I find little relevance to the thread describing the poor living conditions of folks in Iran.
posted by H. Roark at 8:00 PM on December 9, 2003


Welcome to MeccaDonald's
posted by muckster at 8:08 PM on December 9, 2003


Surely no thinking person can honestly, with any modicum of integrity, suggest that a French company should benefit from pure US dollars to reconstruct Iraq, when France unilaterally opposed our action to begin with.

Name me one other country in the world who would take so much grief from another country, incumber huge personal expense, and then send more money to the country that opposed it. Name me one. (And I will tell you in advance, you are wrong no matter who you name, because NO ONE in their right mind would do such a thing).


How incredibly filled with loathing for Halliburton, an American company, one must be to suggest that US tax dollars should be going instead to a French company?


Or is this just another case of "Damn Reason and Common Sense! Here is Another Thing to Try to Smear Bush On!"
posted by Seth at 8:17 PM on December 9, 2003


How about the company best suited to do the work? Or do you just hire your friends and relatives to do everything?
posted by amberglow at 8:27 PM on December 9, 2003


How incredibly filled with loathing for Halliburton, an American company, one must be to suggest that US tax dollars should be going instead to a French company?

How much is Haliburton charging for gas again?

It isn't about which country gets the money. It is about competition. When you restrict the field, particularly excluding companies that have regional ties and expertise, you increase the costs.

That is the whole rationale behind western free market economies. I wonder if this policy is violation of some GATT/WTA/FTAA rules.

The people getting the raw deal are not the excluded companies. It's the taxpayers who will get shafted with inflated contracts and cost overruns.

How much do you want to pay for Iraq's reconstruction? 1000 usd? 2000?
posted by srboisvert at 8:30 PM on December 9, 2003


I love it. Really, what's the down side to alienating such politically vile countries anyway. Oh, I do love it!
posted by ParisParamus at 8:31 PM on December 9, 2003


But Seth, why is the US spending the money in the first place? To reconstruct Iraq as effectively as possible, or to reward American companies? Your argument only makes sense if rebuilding of the country the US unilaterally attacked is not the top priority.

On preview, what amberglow and srboisvert said.
posted by muckster at 8:32 PM on December 9, 2003


I suggest these worthless worms, who were willing to let millions suffer under a vicious tyrant for MONEY

You're joking right? How many countries do we support that do this? From the Phillipines to Saudi Arabia to Iraq itself before they invaded Kuwait, we've supported them in the interest of money.

those same nations are being pressured by James Baker to forgive Iraq's debts, which Saddam made in the first place by buying ARMS from France, Germany and Russia and making sweetheart OIL deals.

Oil deals, sure, the UN traded Iraq oil for food quite often.
Arms deals? Show me proof. I doubt you'll have one credible source.
posted by destro at 8:34 PM on December 9, 2003


The people getting the raw deal are not the excluded companies. It's the taxpayers who will get shafted with inflated contracts and cost overruns.

Sure. Maybe. Not sure. Doubtful. Ever check out the state of competition in these countries? Big business in France, etc., is more in bed with the French than anything ever seen in America. Added competition? That's laughable.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:38 PM on December 9, 2003


Please spare us the "free market" argument.
We all know how completely disingenuous it is coming from people who would otherwise support government intereference in economies to protect labor unions, health care or welfare entitlements.

Basically, you are taking a completely rational position taken by the Bush administration, that is, not sending are billions of dollars to France but instead keeping it in America, and trying to distort it into something else to blame Bush about.

It is sad and pathetic how disingenuous, unprincipled and silly you people will go to try to blame Bush. Surely you realize that not EVERYTHING he does has to be wrong???? There are still plenty of things to criticize him on without having to make asinine arguments like we ought to send our money to French companies after how they tried to sabatoge us.

Just like on that completely asinine thread earlier about how Bush should be blamed for not invading China.... it is ridiculous! Again, this is an entirely sensible position that no thinking individual would disagree with. But you want to act like it is an outrage. It is an embarassament to your credibility!

Some of you would rather make yourself look like a looney fool in order to cast blame at Bush, then to possibly permit the chance that he might actually be doing something that makes sense.






(As an aside, where exactly is your evidence that we would be saving massive amounts of money by letting Sclumberger in on the deal? I, for one, and most Americans (I am willing to bet) would gladly pay a much higher wage to an American company anyhow)
posted by Seth at 8:39 PM on December 9, 2003


France is supposedly owed $4-8 Billion.

Germany, $4.3 Billion.

Russia, $8-16 Billion.

The Gulf states of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and The United Arab Emirates(drumroll, please) $55-85 Billion.

So if screwing your fellow man for filthy lucre is the crime here, let's line up all the guilty parties(PDF, page 23).

Just don't forget about one other nation that Iraq is in debt to; the United States of America, to the tune of $5 Billion. That would be debt run up by Saddam, with us, when the vicious bloody tyrant happened to be our bloody tyrant, mounting human wave assaults in the desert against our least favorite non-Arabs, Iran.

Do those shouting "J'Accuse!" ascribe moral equivalence between the current President's father's administration and the French?
posted by dglynn at 8:45 PM on December 9, 2003


One more thing:
You want to talk about a sure-fire way for the Democratic nominee to lose the election, have Dean (or whomever it is) stand up in front of the American people and have him say that Sclumberger, a French company ought to be able to have some of the contracts instead of them going to American companies.

If he said that to the American people, he'd make Mondale look like William the Conquerer.

Vast swaths of the American electorate would be utterly enraged if our money were to go to a French company instead of an American company.
posted by Seth at 8:46 PM on December 9, 2003


Word up, Seth.
posted by swerdloff at 8:48 PM on December 9, 2003


In a sense, it is a decent idea to support American companies, buy American, all that jazz. All those WTO protestors would probably agree with Bush in that sentiment.

The problem is that the way they are doing it is a huge political disaster. We are encouraging another trade war, besides the ones we are narrowly averting with Europe over steel and China over textiles.

You don't announce that these companies are banned, you just ignore their bids. The Bush administration is trying to win over domestic votes so badly that they are willing to snub the international community, which will then penalize us, and we will suffer.
posted by destro at 9:02 PM on December 9, 2003


Also, what Halliburton charges for gas.
posted by destro at 9:08 PM on December 9, 2003


"Citing national security reasons ..." Yawn. I expect even Americans are getting tired of listening to The Boy Who Cried National Security. The more often that excuse is used, the cheaper and less believable it gets.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:12 PM on December 9, 2003


seth, some questions:

are you raging against anyone in particular, or just projecting on that old favorite: the lefy mefi boogyman?

French companies after how they tried to sabatoge us. ...do what now? sabatoge?

do you object to non-coalition countries being excluded from receiving contracts in order to punish them?

do you reckon the fact that non-coalition members are being excluded from receiving contracts and the fact that the white house has pledged to punish countries that didn't support the war are in any way connected?

also, spare us the "disingenuous" line when discussing anything related to the bush administration and the war in iraq.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:13 PM on December 9, 2003


Um, destro, did you read the article?

Or just the by-line?

A spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, Bob Faletti, also defended the price of imported fuel.

"Everyone is talking about high costs, but no one is talking about the dangers, or the number of fuel trucks that have been blown up," Mr. Faletti said. "That's the reason it is so expensive." He said recent government audits had found no improprieties in the Halliburton contract.



Do you have any evidence that a French or Russian company could do it for less of a price?
Would you go to Iraq unless your company was paying you more per hour to put your ass on the line?
posted by Seth at 9:15 PM on December 9, 2003


A French or Russian company who's been there before and is known to the locals wouldn't be the target an American company is--Are we helping Iraqis or just transferring billions of dollars from taxpayer pockets to a selected few U.S. companies? I've heard that there still is not reliable electricity in many parts of the country, and this is how many months after the war ended?
posted by amberglow at 9:22 PM on December 9, 2003


mcsweetie,
I wasn't raging against any bogeyman.

I criticizing the few on this thread and the dolts on the one down below about Taiwan and China.


I stand by my post in toto, and don't think your questions are a very deconstructive response. It is merely a couple of questions which don't really challenge my post and then a backhanded slam at Bush.

Nevertheless, I'll answer your question.
Yes.
I think the countries that make great personal sacrafice to do what they believed to be right should not offer benefits to those who actively engaged in subterfuge of the coalition's efforts.
Absolutely I believe that.

And you know what? I suspect that the vast majority of Americans.... hell, I suspect every American who isn't a regular DeanForAmerica visitor would understand and approve of such a policy by the government.

Again, if you think it is so wrong, then I suggest you wait and see the reaction if Dean or any other Dem tells America that a French company ought to have the chance to compete with an American company for American tax dollars.
posted by Seth at 9:22 PM on December 9, 2003


Seth: Did you read the end of the article?

Iraqi's state oil company, SOMO, pays 96 cents a gallon to bring in gas, which includes the cost of gasoline and transportation costs, the aides to Mr. Waxman said. The gasoline transported by SOMO — and by Halliburton's subcontractor — are delivered to the same depots in Iraq and often use the same military escorts.

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center pays $1.08 to $1.19 per gallon for the gas it imports from Kuwait, Congressional aides said. That includes the price of the gas and its transportation costs.


...while Halliburton charges $2.64/gal
posted by destro at 9:37 PM on December 9, 2003


so you don't like "dems." I can live with that. but you're evading my last question. you imply that it's beneath you, but if that's really the case then you should have no trouble dismissing me.

And you know what? I suspect that the vast majority of Americans....

I've noticed that lots of folks, ParisParamus in particular, pull that one out every now and then. you all speak for america? news to me. even if it were true that the vast majority of america was 100% behind bush and didn't like howard dean even a little bit (not even as a joke), it doesn't prove anything.

I think the countries that make great personal sacrafice to do what they believed to be right should not offer benefits to those who actively engaged in subterfuge of the coalition's efforts.

so if your nation's leaders opposed the war in Iraq, they were not making sacrifices or doing what they believed what was right...they were just being sticks in the mud? and would you reckon that bush snubbing non-coalition countries would suggest maybe that his efforts to repair relations is not so much sincere as it is exhibitory?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:37 PM on December 9, 2003


Seth & Kablam: did you read the article? Wolfowitz was very clear that this is about national security, not nationalism.

The question isn't whether or not Germany and France deserve the contracts -- no one ever said they didn't. The question is whether or not letting them have the contracts puts national security at jeopardy.

It seems clear to me that our nation is much more secure with Saudi Arabia and Egypt rebuilding Iraq than it is with Russia and Germany doing the job. Much more secure.
posted by Ptrin at 9:51 PM on December 9, 2003


Please spare us the "free market" argument.
We all know how completely disingenuous it is coming from people who would otherwise support government intereference in economies to protect labor unions, health care or welfare entitlements.


I'm not the one who made it, but the point, I believe, is that the administration and the right should be the ones propounding the "free market" argument, if they want to remain consistent with other justifications they've made in the past. If, on the other hand, they only support it when it benefits them, and ignore it when it does not, then there should be no problem with this memo.
posted by Hildago at 10:09 PM on December 9, 2003


So, Seth, are we to believe that competition does not drive down prices? Or is it just that only Republicans are allowed to state that obvious truth?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:10 PM on December 9, 2003


"SO 1936 or 1952"" _Blank_ is a danger, we reserve the right to unilaterally attack _blank_ to protect us,
Either your with us unilaterally attacking _blank_ or you support _blank_ and SUCK,,

Incert "the jews or France or Commies or Canada "at your whim, it matters not, that is the nature of the argument from the other side, we say _blank_ is bad, so either agree or you are with _blank_ too.

Simple Black & White argument. Stupid but at least it has the redeeming value of being simple...

Next: They are not us so they are bad.. (Fox News Exclusive)
posted by Elim at 10:20 PM on December 9, 2003


Good God people, grow a f**king MIND!!!
posted by Elim at 10:21 PM on December 9, 2003


Looking at the list of countries its clear this is pure politics, mainly because I know for a fact that New Zealand didn't support the war and I'm quite sure Tonga didn't end up participating either because it could not afford to send it's 12 person army
posted by X-00 at 10:45 PM on December 9, 2003


If this war was about liberating the Iraqi people and the best chances for improving the infrastructure of the country, then how is there any argument against allowing as many entities as possible the opportunity to improve the infrastructure of the country?

If a French firm charges less to rebuild a school, what does it say of the U.S. that they're not allowed to do it because Americans need their moral victory against the "Surrender-Monkeys?"

Sad and laughable at the same time how quickly one's argument can go from "it's worth any cost to remove Saddam" to "it's worth extra cost to screw Europe over." Golly gee, Iraqi civilians exploited as pawns to make America look and feel better. Wow, never seen that before.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:36 PM on December 9, 2003


pertinent perhaps to this thread - did anyone consider giving contracts to *gasp* Iraqi companies? They did, um, rebuild all those bridges and stuff after the '91 thang -

there was a bit about this on Baghdad Burning a few months back:


Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we
posted by dinsdale at 11:40 PM on December 9, 2003


(trying again...)

Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we'll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who'll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!

posted by dinsdale at 11:43 PM on December 9, 2003


Everyone with a fully-functional brain predicted this many months ago.
To the rest of you.. I'm, uh.. sorry.
posted by cell at 11:56 PM on December 9, 2003


"Vast swaths of the American electorate would be utterly enraged if our money were to go to a French company instead of an American company."

But Seth, your premise is fundamentally wrong.

Remember Madrid? Not all of the money for reconstruction is from the U.S. Infact, some of the money being spent on reconstruction is from France and Germany... Over 1.5 billion dollars was donated by the EU, and much of that was from France and Germany.

Also, France and Germany were both considering debt relief and restructuring for Iraq -- most likely through the Paris Club -- which is a far bigger issue. The big reason you haven't heard about this is primarily due to formality -- both countries believe that the US acted without UN authorization and would prefer to deal with the issue once Iraq becomes a soveriegn nation. In other words, they're trying to encourage the US to bring true democracy to Iraq ASAP. Of course, now that the US has screwed France and Germany, why shouldn't France and Germany screw the Iraqis and force the US to pay for their mess?

By cutting France and Germany out of Iraqi contracts, the US taxpayers forced to entirely rebuild parts of Iraq's infrastructure which could have just been repaired. Also, bids for such contracts won't be as competitive and the reconstruction will take longer than necessary, which will also have a negative economic impact on Iraq. (i.e. more pissed off Iraqis who can't work, can't depend on reliable power, water, phones, etc.) A longer period of time for the reconstruction, of course, means more US soldiers returning home in body bags too.

So, yeah... if you express doing what's right (i.e. letting the free market decide who gets the contracts) in the most simple, ignorant, xenophobic terms, then yes, then those who are goaded on by neo-con pundits will be upset, but then again, they're the ones advocating a more expensive, more time-consuming position which will lead to more dead U.S. soldiers.

All you're proving, in other words, is that you are ignorant of the reality of the situation and are willing to be force-fed your information from sources who are either ignorant themselves or deliberately misleading you, right?
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:01 AM on December 10, 2003


>The Boy Who Cried National Security

Haha, classic.

Incredible how the neocon apologists refuse to acknowledge cronyism at its worst and how it will cost the US more and don't criticize the lame excuse of 'national security.'
posted by skallas at 1:34 AM on December 10, 2003


To be precise, the EU has pledged approximately $2.36 billion for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance in Iraq, to be spent over the next three years. Compare this to the approximately $200 million it spends per year in Afghanistan.

France and Germany are the two largest contributors to the EU, each contributing approximately 16% of its budget. That translates into an Iraqi contribution of approximately $380 million apiece. Compare this to South Korea, who pledged $200 million, or Turkey, who pledged $50 million. Also consider that Germany and France will be hit extra hard when debt is waived or restructured. In short, they are contributing quite a bit, especially considering that the people of France and Germany overwhelmingly opposed the conflict.

As for other countries who are being singled out by the US, Canada pledged ~$225 million US dollars for reconstruction and humanitarian aid -- more than our ally South Korea, despite the fact that the South Korean economy is slightly larger than that of Canada.

In other words, these countries aren't being singled out because they aren't contributing to Iraq. They are being punished for listening to their people and not supporting the Bush administration's unsanctioned war. This is an illegal attempt by the Bush administration to play god with the Iraqi economy and seize it for themselves and their supporters -- essentially the same kind of colonialism-enforced economics that led Americans to revolt against the British, really.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:55 AM on December 10, 2003


Also, what's all this talk of the "Iraqi people" making decisions and such. We say who we're going to spend your money on. Some of the reconstruction is in the form of loans and whoever they go with will cause a certain level of 'vendor lock-in' for future maintaince. They have at least 13 billion in IMF loans.

How dare they complain we aren't giving them power or autonomy?! You with me neocons?
posted by skallas at 3:44 AM on December 10, 2003


Wasn't Bush looking to bring in these nations - yes even France and Germany - to help pay for this reconstruction, and even send troops to help patrol/pacify Iraq? Shouldn't he be enticing them to lessen the burden on US citizens?

I mean, going out of his way to *include* companies from non-coalition nations is just as bad as excluding them. But it's damned hard to build bridges when he keeps burning them.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:33 AM on December 10, 2003


For all the people going on about France and Germany not wanting to lose contracts with Iraq, I'd like to provide them with some perspective in the form of trade stats.

According to Eurostat (I don't have a link as I'm using a software tool called World Trade Atlas) France's imports from Iraq made up 0.25% of France's total imports for 2001. That made Iraq France's 43rd largest source of imports.

Here are some more numbers:


YearPercent of Total Imports
19960%
19970.16%
19980.25%
19990.24%
20000.4%
20010.26%
20020.17%


Alternatively, the US's figures for the same period (same application, using US Dept of Commerce figures):


YearPercent of Total Imports
19960%
19970.02%
19980.11%
19990.34%
20000.49%
20010.48%
20020.33%


I'm not sure if it's fair to compare both countries imports numbers (as I'm not an economist) so I'm just putting the numbers up there for the hell of it.

One interesting point: both countries imports figures are almost exclusively oil imports (US is 100% oil imports, France is about 98 to 99% oil imports).

OT: sorry about the table formatting, I couldn't figure out how to space out the columns properly.
posted by smcniven at 6:09 AM on December 10, 2003


Time to invade China!
The damn murderers.
Killing millions of their own people!
Threatening to invade neighboring countries!
Supplying rogue countries with the means to wage war!
And to top it all, they're damn commies who embarrassed Dear Leader!
Bomb them all to hell, then occupy the country and establish a "democratic" viceroy to rule them.
Anyone not with us can forget about their share of rice!
Real patriotic Americans are willing to sacrifice everything in order for aWol to get even with those evil Chineseteers!

Aren't neocons ridiculous?
posted by nofundy at 6:11 AM on December 10, 2003


I think the countries that make great personal sacrifice to do what they believed to be right should not offer benefits to those who actively engaged in subterfuge of the coalition's efforts.

Where to start?

How about here? -> Countries do not ever make "personal" sacrifices. You have to be a person to do that.

Coalition? Weren't there two coalitions: pro and against? Which one are you talking about, because both went to great lengths to do what they believed to be right.

And by subterfuge do mean using lame-ass excuses to keep them out of the reconstruction they themselves are contributing money to?

At the end of the day, I'd say the prize goes to the people that were right in calling the bluff on the other side: no WMDs. And Iraq is no better shape now, but that was never the point in the buildup for war : We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. (Applause.) .

And yes, the losers of the bet should pony the money up .

What part of the above contradicts basic American values again?
posted by magullo at 6:43 AM on December 10, 2003


We blew the stuff up. Only makes sense we should also pay for the reconstruction.
posted by kahboom at 7:05 AM on December 10, 2003


AP NEWSBREAK: IRAQ'S HEALTH MINISTRY STOPS COUNTING
civilian dead from war

^By NIKO PRICE=
^Associated Press Writer=
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq's Health Ministry has ordered a
halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told
its statistics department not to release figures compiled
so far, the official who oversaw the count told The
Associated Press on Wednesday.

The order was relayed by the ministry's director of
planning, Dr. Nazar Shabandar, but the U.S.-led Coalition
Provisional Authority, which oversees the ministry, also
wanted the counting to stop, said Dr. Nagham Mohsen, the
head of the ministry's statistics department.
«We have stopped the collection of this information
because our minister didn't agree with it,» she said,
adding: «The CPA doesn't want this to be done.»

A spokesman for the CPA had no immediate response.
The U.S. and British militaries don't count civilian
casualties from their wars, saying only that they try to
minimize civilian deaths.
A major investigation of Iraq's wartime civilian
casualties was compiled by The Associated Press, which
documented the deaths of 3,240 civilians between March 20
and April 20. That investigation, conducted in May and
June, surveyed about half of Iraq's hospitals, and reported
that the real number of civilian deaths was sure to be much
higher.

The Health Ministry's count, based on records of all
hospitals, promised to be more complete.
Saddam Hussein's regime fell April 9, and U.S. President
George W. Bush declared major combat operations over on May
1.
The ministry began its survey at the end of July, when
shaky nationwide communication links began to improve. It
sent letters to all hospitals and clinics in Iraq, asking
them to send back details of civilians killed or wounded in
the war.
Many hospitals responded with statistics, Mohsen said, but
last month Shabinder summoned her and told her that the
minister, Dr. Khodeir Abbas, wanted the count halted. He
also told her not to release the partial information she
had already collected, she said.
«He told me, `You should move far away from this
subject,»' Mohsen said. «I don't know why.»
Shabandar's office said he was attending a conference in
Egypt and wouldn't return for two weeks. Abbas' secretary
said he, too, was out of the country and would return in
late December.
The coalition spokesman said officials who direct the
Health Ministry weren't immediately available for comment.
Mohsen insisted that despite communications that remain
poor and incomplete record-keeping by some hospitals, the
statistics she received indicated that a significant count
could have been completed.
«I could do it if the CPA and our minister agree that I
can,» she said in an interview in English.
Under Saddam's government, the ministry counted 1,196
civilian deaths during the war, but was forced to stop as
U.S. and British forces overran southern Iraqi cities. Over
the summer, the ministry compiled more figures that had
been sent in previously, reaching a total of 1,764.
But officials said those numbers account for only a small
number of the hospitals in Iraq, and none provided
statistics through the end of the war.

___
Niko Price is correspondent-at-large for The Associated
Press.






posted by matteo at 7:43 AM on December 10, 2003


Is the US up to date on its UN dues?
posted by websavvy at 8:06 AM on December 10, 2003


Ptrin: "The question isn't whether or not Germany and France deserve the contracts -- no one ever said they didn't. The question is whether or not letting them have the contracts puts national security at jeopardy."

Iraq's 11,000-page report to the UN Security Council lists 150 foreign companies, including some from America, Britain, Germany and France(*), that supported Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programme, a German newspaper said yesterday.

((*) and Yugoslavia, Japan, Sweden, Russia, China, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, etc., that did NOT support his WMD program, but provided other arms or materials.)

So, think "non-proliferation treaty."

I've no idea what, if any punishment the US and British companies who provided WMD support received, assuming that this was not done at the *behest* of the US and British governments. But both the US and Britain feel confident about being able to *block* such "violating" exports in the future.

But how many other countries can be trusted to *not* provide WMD support to rogue states in the future? And, bottom line, how many of *them* would like to enter Iraq?

So, bottom line, we are punishing these countries for being too loose with their nuclear technologies, while having realized too late what we ourselves were doing. It could be rationalized as a national security issue. However, it can also be linked to punishment for their opposition to the war.

So would France or Germany be like Russia (to Iran), and sell WMD tech to unstable regimes in the future?
posted by kablam at 9:56 AM on December 10, 2003


Some representatives of Finnish companies excluded from the deal were interviewed on tv; They weren't too worried, since UN and other contracts will still be contested normally. I'd say that the real losers are the Americans and the Iraqis, the other paying too much, the other not getting the aid they could. Obviously, the real winners are the companies that these uncontested contracts are awarded to.
posted by lazy-ville at 10:52 AM on December 10, 2003


kablam

I've no idea what, if any punishment the US and British companies who provided WMD support received, assuming that this was not done at the *behest* of the US and British governments.

Halliburton subsidiaries did serious business (some say to the tune of 78 million US$ with Saddam's Iraq while Cheney was at the helm of the company. We all know what the punishment was. And Cheney's too.

So excuse me if I don't pay the slightest attention to your fears about other countries. They seem wildly misplaced.
posted by magullo at 11:35 AM on December 10, 2003


the original article translated from die tageszeitung

The list includes deals that go back to the early eighties, so it loses a bit of context. But this is evidence that I didn't think existed proving German arms deals. Point taken.

Still, the huge amount of U.S. involvement negates the larger point that France and Germany are a security risk.
posted by destro at 12:26 PM on December 10, 2003


Why do so many USians have such an inferiority complex when it comes to French people?

It seems to me that racism against the French and people of Gallic ethnicity is one of the few socially acceptable racisms left in the United States.
posted by meehawl at 12:27 PM on December 10, 2003


I'd like to see a venn diagram of people who refer to the french as "surrender monkeys" and people who identify with their confederate "heritage."
posted by mcsweetie at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2003


It isn't about which country gets the money. It is about competition. When you restrict the field, particularly excluding companies that have regional ties and expertise, you increase the costs.

If the short-term cost was the only factor, then yes, the US should allow competing bids from any country.

But there is more at stake here. If the countries that supported the US are treated exactly the same way as those that impeded the US, why would anybody bother contributing troops and money in any future conflicts if they know they will be treated exactly the same as those that actively opposed them?

If the French and their ilk are not punished for their behaviour, there would be too much of an incentive for other countries in the furture to actively work against the goals of the U.S. So the American citizens are better served if companies from these countries are not allowed to bid on the prime contracts, despite the extra premium that must be paid due to a lower level of competition.

Oh wait, but this isn't about the well-being of the American citizens, it is about Bush-bashing. I forgot.
posted by VeGiTo at 1:54 PM on December 10, 2003


Russian company who's been there before and is known to the locals wouldn't be the target an American company is
My brother used these Russian's housing while there. The electrical plant that was being built was solely for Saddam. The Iraqi people in the region were glad seeing them gone. This was outside of Nebuchadnezzar's palace which Saddam was slowly changing, incorporating into his palace too. Since the '60s this region was off limits to all. He built a large lake ruining any future archeological digs thus destroying world history: origin of life.

Saddam was replacing the Ottoman Empire with himself. This has been the way of life in those parts and maybe we should have let him be. Evolution: the strongest survives.
Add the Pollish soldiers whom took over the US troops role in the region found French missles from the 80's.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:07 PM on December 10, 2003


If the French and their ilk are not punished for their behaviour, there would be too much of an incentive for other countries in the future to actively work against the goals of the U.S. So the American citizens are better served if companies from these countries are not allowed to bid on the prime contracts.

While creating advantage for the US is certainly one possible outcome, it would be misleading to claim that it is the only, or even most overwhelmingly likely possibility.

I see this decision as part of a chain of policies designed to deliver a fairly pointed fuck-you to the rest of the World. This type of policy, executed on this scale (and I do believe it is the rest of the World that will feel the effects, however desirable it would be to concentrate the affront on France and Germany) has never been successfully undertaken before.

The way in which the bidding process outlined here is formulated is simply unjustifiable in the context of any existing framework for international trade or relations. It can only be understood on the basis of motives of pure self-interest.

From any other country's perspective, this appears to be a pure power-play. Presumably exercised in the belief that the negative outcomes cannot possibly outweigh the positives.

However, I'm not convinced that this follows. The rest of the World has plenty of options for tangible or intangible, conscious or subconscious retaliation. I'm certainly no economist, but I know a little about the effects of reputation on an entity's ability to succeed. Negative effects for the US could be manifest in trade - either by deliberate policy at a national or supranational level, or by foreign consumers taking conscious decisions to avoid American products (see Mecca Cola). It could (and to an extent already has) manifested itself in a general chill in sentiment towards the American people, either as tourists, members of international communities or even as families. It could undermine "good faith" relationships at a political level with other countries, making successful lobbying for US interests at a bi- or multi-national level much harder. Needless to say, it also is likely to increase the risk of terrorist attacks against the US.

All of these have a direct impact on the "well-being of the American citizens".

The US government appears recklessly overconfident to me (and I'm from a citizen from an allied nation...) As I see it, they are over-estimating the strength of the US position. Refusing to respect conventions governing international relations (designed to protect as well as restrain) could backfire badly.

Resorting to stereotypes, I feel that the US government are approaching the issue with the mentality of 1980s businessmen - concentrating on cash, and ignoring communications. However, I strongly believe that the environment within which this type of approach could succeed ended at least 10 years ago. Reputation *is* vital today, and unless they manage to use this situation to lever the US into an insurmountable position of economic and military power, they will have pissed any remaining goodwill with the rest of the world away. If this happens, then the "well-being of American citizens" is definitely going to suffer. Put simply, it's a gamble against not-particularly-favourable odds.
posted by bifter at 3:03 PM on December 10, 2003


This has been the way of life in those parts and maybe we should have let him be. Evolution: the strongest survives.
It's too bad we're not acting like the confident superpower we are, but like petty, vengeful 5-year-olds in a playground. This is the time (past the time really) for us to act big--bigballed and bighearted. And what bifter said about pissing away whatever goodwill remained to us.
posted by amberglow at 3:21 PM on December 10, 2003


Vegito: These countries may be removing any troops they had in the region and stopping aid because of this. Canada had donated $225 million which we may lose.

If the French and their ilk are not punished for their behaviour, there would be too much of an incentive for other countries in the furture to actively work against the goals of the U.S.

So what you're saying is that if anybody disagrees with us they should be punished, otherwise they might disagree with us in the future. Jeez, I wonder why most of the world hates us.
posted by destro at 3:24 PM on December 10, 2003


Gosh, and just when NATO was "examining military options for expanding the force" in Afghanistan.
posted by moonbiter at 3:50 PM on December 10, 2003


He built a large lake ruining any future archeological digs thus destroying world history: origin of life.

No. Definitely not the origin of life. Please try again.
posted by magullo at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2003


If the countries that supported the US are treated exactly the same way as those that impeded the US, why would anybody bother contributing troops and money in any future conflicts if they know they will be treated exactly the same as those that actively opposed them?


it's amazing how, sometimes, out of shamelessness or simple stupidity, the Right actually manages to tell the truth. how refreshing to see the "Exporting Democracy Since 2001" contigent actually admit their GoodFellas ethics and mindset. But tomorrow our gleefully conservative friend will go back to lecturing all us Pinkos about ethics and restoring dignity and honor to the office of the Presidency.
it'd be funny if it weren't so disgusting


If the French and their ilk are not punished for their behaviour,


You know what, next time around volunteer for Tony Soprano's campaign for President in '08 -- he's very good at punishing families who disrespect his gang
posted by matteo at 4:01 PM on December 10, 2003


NATO: Coalition Contributions to the War on Terrorism. Ah the good ol' days of 2002.
France:Germany:
posted by moonbiter at 4:02 PM on December 10, 2003


matteo: Sopranos or not, this is the way the world works. Imagine the giant slap-in-the-face the countries who staunchly supported the US would feel if they are viewed upon with the exact same regard as those who didn't provide much support at all. My guess is that they would feel pretty ripped off.

Favouritism in this case is not only necessary, it is the responsible thing to do.

moonbiter: I believe the issue here is Iraq reconstruction.
posted by VeGiTo at 5:35 PM on December 10, 2003


no, you tried to paint France and Germany and just blindly opposing the US's goals, when it would appear as though they aren't.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:51 PM on December 10, 2003


moonbiter: I believe the issue here is Iraq reconstruction

By providing troops for the effort in Afghanistan, NATO frees an equal amount of American forces up to be used where the current administration wants them. That includes our little adventure in Iraq.
posted by moonbiter at 7:09 PM on December 10, 2003


Sopranos or not, this is the way the world works. Imagine the giant slap-in-the-face the countries who staunchly supported the US would feel if they are viewed upon with the exact same regard as those who didn't provide much support at all. My guess is that they would feel pretty ripped off.

Doesn't the very idea that a country might feel "ripped off" imply that a country cared about supporting the U.S. for more than the interests of Iraq and the Iraqi people? If France can build bridges cheaper and quicker than Britain, what does it say of Britain to complain that their slower, costlier operation isn't bestowed upon the war-torn landscape? Imagine the slap-in-the-face Iraqis must feel when they find out their liberation was viewed upon as a chance to score lucrative contracts.

I repeat: if this war was about removing Saddam from harming the Iraqi people, and therefore a war meant solely for the easing of Iraqi plight, as most neocons claimed, then what justification is there for hindering the widest range of options for aiding the Iraqi people?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:11 PM on December 10, 2003


moonbiter: I doubt the US would have contributed any more troops that they have now even if there was less NATO support. So their help didn't really free up anything.

a war meant solely for the easing of Iraqi plight

Not true. Actually, not even close. The war was meant for installing and spreading democracy in the middle-east, in order to eliminate safe harbours for terrorists. It's a long shot, but in the end it is purely self-serving - let's be honest here.
posted by VeGiTo at 7:26 PM on December 10, 2003


*any more troops to Afghanistan than they have now
posted by VeGiTo at 7:27 PM on December 10, 2003


I doubt the US would have contributed any more troops that they have now even if there was less NATO support.

Ah, there you have it then. I find your doubt unconvincing, but since neither of us can prove our theses I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree.
posted by moonbiter at 7:39 PM on December 10, 2003


Hey, I thought we were over there to help the Iraqis! Now Vegito's talking about punishing our enemies? Help, I am confused!
posted by Hildago at 9:35 PM on December 10, 2003


hmmmm...President Bush found himself in the awkward position on Wednesday of calling the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to ask them to forgive Iraq's debts, just a day after the Pentagon excluded those countries and others from $18 billion in American-financed Iraqi reconstruction projects.
posted by amberglow at 9:58 PM on December 10, 2003


"White House officials said Mr. Bush and his aides had been surprised by both the timing and the blunt wording of the Pentagon's declaration."

Once again it looks like Bush is simply not in control of his administration. Baker must be furious.
posted by homunculus at 10:21 PM on December 10, 2003


I thought we were over there because there was a chance Saddam might be thinking of acquiring WMD? I mean, if we were wanting to eliminate safe harbors for terrorists, why didn't we go after saudi arabia?
posted by mcsweetie at 7:07 AM on December 11, 2003


Pentagon Finds Halliburton Overcharged

I just love the White House spin on this one: that the American tax payers want it this way. Yeah, we want your buddies to have special access to our money. That guy sure is in touch.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 6:50 PM on December 11, 2003


Here's an interview with Henry Waxman about Halliburton.
posted by homunculus at 8:11 PM on December 11, 2003


« Older Why was the sky red in Munch's "The Scream"?...  |  Chess Boxing.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments