Lots of our "allies" are pissed off that we're not going to cut them in on the reconstruction action going on in Iraq. I expect this will be the big news in the blogosphere today, and I'm sure lots of other people will have a lot of comments.
The White House staunchly defended Wednesday the Pentagon's decision to bar companies from countries opposed to the Iraq war from bidding on $18.6 billion worth of major reconstruction contracts in that country.I don't know of any country named "Africa", and I wasn't aware that Afghanistan sent troops or supported the effort in any material way. Still, it sounds perfectly reasonable on the surface. After all, hasn't the world been clamoring for the countries who "made the mess" to "clean it up"?
But nevertheless, the European Union said Wednesday it would examine whether the United States violates world trade rules with its decision.
"I think it is appropriate and reasonable to expect that prime contracts for reconstruction funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the Iraqi people and those helping with the United States on the difficult task of helping to build a free, democratic and prosperous Iraq," White House spokesman Scott McClellan (search) told reporters. ...
The ruling bars companies from U.S. allies such as France, Germany, Russia and Canada from bidding on prime contracts because their governments opposed the American-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein's regime. Countries that contributed troops and supported the effort -- such as Italy, Africa, Micronesia, Spain, Japan, Rwanda and Afghanistan -- will be able to bid on prime contracts.
The Canadians actually raise a cogent objection:
"If these comments are accurate ... it would be difficult for us to give further money for the reconstruction of Iraq," said Canada's deputy prime minister John Manley. "To exclude Canadians just because they are Canadians would be unacceptable if they accept funds from Canadian taxpayers for the reconstruction of Iraq."I don't know if their money is being used independently from these contracts, or what the deal is. Still, it does seem a bit unfair in that light.
Steven Hogue, a spokesman for Prime Minister Jean Chretien (search), said Canada has contributed more than $190 million to the rebuilding effort.
Naturally, some US politicians are completely blind to reality.
"This totally gratuitous slap does nothing to protect our security interests and everything to alienate countries we need with us in Iraq," Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.We've already shown that we don't need them, and they've already shown that they don't want to help us. I don't see how this contract issue changes anything.
In modern warfare, these types of rebuilding contracts are the closest thing to "spoils" that exists. With capitalism, it's understood that wealth isn't only gained by taking it from other people -- it's generated by economic activity. The rebuilding in Iraq will provide jobs for millions of people, and create a huge amount of wealth, and there's no reason to share it with countries who opposed us every step of the way.
TM Lutas disagrees and says that reconstruction contracts aren't "spoils".
If I run a car body shop and get into a car accident I might offer to do the work in my shop and not go through insurance. Essentially I'm repairing (and perhaps improving damage from prior accidents) what I fixed from my own pocket. On net, am I any better off? No reasonable analysis would find it so. I incur expenses in parts, labor, wear and tear on my fixed assets, and in the end the repaired/improved car drives away and I get no benefit other than the insurance company doesn't hear about it.Just because these contracts may not make the war profitable in total doesn't mean that they aren't "spoils" in a sense. The contracts are going to make some people a lot of money, otherwise they wouldn't be controversial.
No. The real spoils of the Iraq campaign is not from reconstruction contracts. The spoils of the campaign are in taking one country out of the non-integrating gap and pushing it into the functioning core where they will increase their contribution to global human wealth and create a politico-military situation that not only denies terrorists haven in Iraq but makes them uncomfortable in neighboring countries.
The freedom we've brought to Iraq and the integration of Iraq into the world economy will have vast economic benefits for Iraqis and others around the world, and by limiting these contracts to people we like we're effectively "divying up the spoils". Obviously not all the benefits of liberation will be economic, but even reductions in terrorist attacks and Islamofascism can be measured in dollars and cents.