Thursday, September 25, 2003

Iberian Notes Admits Occasional Quality Vanguardia Articles Exist (in other news, Lawyer Performs Humanitarian, Unselfish Act; Gay Rights Parade "Quiet, Dignified"; Car Mechanic Finds Problem within Minutes, Fixes It for Under $500; Greenpeace Releases Report Audited by Peer-Reviewers; Sun Rises in West; Tigers Win Game)

The Vangua's headline today is "Schroder Repairs Rupture with US; Chancellor Proposes to Bush German Training of Iraqi Police, No Troops". Sounds good to me. I vote almost any sort of agreement or deal we can make is fine with me, as long as the United States retains military occupation over the Tikrit triangle and the British retain military authority over Basora, where there has been a little too much trouble lately, and as long as those military authorities are subject to no one but their respective commanders-in-chief. The rest of the country is getting pretty close to being able to partially take care of itself. And if we have to kiss France's and Germany's asses over this, I don't mind.

Here the Vanguardia provides some excellent hard information. There is a "road map" detailing the plans for turning over some parts of governance and administration to the new civilian regime. In October a job retraining program will begin and certain new taxes will be imposed; in January the tax system will be completely overhauled, and in February the training for new tax officials will begin. In October training of the new Iraqi Army will begin. In October the prewar electricity supply of 4000 megawatts a day will be restored, and by January 5000 more megawatts / day will be available. The whole system is expected to be up by March. In January control over the police, the ports, and the railroads will be turned over to the Iraqis.

Now, if I may say so myself, that seems like a schedule everybody ought to be able to deal with. You're not going to get it totally perfect from Day 1. Things take time and mistakes are made. But this looks like a set of concrete plans to me, and if we can get these things done anywhere near when the road map says they're going to be none, in six months we'll be well under way toward a transference of power to the Iraqi government. That seems to be what the Germans and the French want, and I submit that this road map--released by Paul Bremer on Monday before a Senate committee--is evidence that America is operating in good faith.

As for the cash, where's it coming from? Well, Bush has asked the Congress for $87 billion for Iraq-related expenses. $66 billion is for military expenses, and, hey, if that's what it's gonna cost, that's what it's gonna cost. But there are some pretty large sums destined for the necessities of the Iraqi people, more than $20 billion. that's a hell of a lot of money. Nearly $3bn is going to rebuilding the power grid, more than $2 bn is to rebuild the oil industry (which is where the Iraqis are going to get the real money they're going to use to rebuild the country further) and more then $100 million each is going to a new hospital in Basra, ten different irrigation projects, reconstruction of the railroads, investigation of war crimes, housing, and prison modernization and construction. This, to my eyes, is concrete proof that Bush has some kind of definite plan for the reconstruction of Iraq. He's got a timetable, he's got specific projects, he knows what it's going to cost and where the money's going to come from. So enough quagmire talk. This sounds to me like organization being imposed slowly but surely upon chaos.

No comments: