Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Who governs Iraq after Saddam?

The US is looking at another fight in the UN Security Council over who governs post-war Iraq.

The US naturally wants to install a puppet regime whose primary purpose will probably be to threaten Iran and keep the oil flowing - which is how we got Saddam in the first place. The UN on the other hand wants a UN administered civilian government, aimed at handing things back to the Iraqis as quickly as possible. Obviously this doesn't fit with US plans of establishing regional dominance...

Complicating the whole issue is the question of who will pay for reconstruction. The Americans want the UN to do this, but UN members are wary of funding what seems to be a corporate welfare scheme for the President's cronies. The US has since promised that foreign firms can bid on reconstruction contracts, but their clear desire to ensure that the business would go only to Americans has left a bad taste in people's mouths.

On one level, I'd be more than happy for the entire task to be left in US hands. They made the mess, so they should clean it up - and pay for it. That way, they might think twice before pulling such a stunt again. Unfortunately, America considers itself above "nation building", and has a notoriously short attention-span, meaning that things would probably go the way of Afghanistan in short order. Which means the UN is going to have to help, in order to stop a humanitarian disaster. Unfortunately this will lend post-facto legitimacy to the US invasion, but we can hardly leave people to die of malnutrition and disease.

The UN should however avoid being involved at all in the military occupation - it shouldn't send peacekeepers. That is a task we can leave to the US, in the hope that they'll learn. They wanted this illegal war, so they should deal with the costs in money and in lives to hold down what they've stolen. And if they can't? Well, at least the Iraqis will be free again.