Monday, September 15, 2003

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The New York Times editorial page never ceases to amuse

Yesterday the New York Times editorial on Iraq was about the failed Security Council negotiations over a new resolution. It being the Times, it was quite critical of the Bush administration:

After a summer of worsening news from Iraq, it is time to rethink America's postwar strategy...

Mr. Bush has so far failed to explain satisfactorily how he plans to secure Iraq without a crippling, indefinite American military commitment; speedily achieve Iraqi self-government; and share the burden of rebuilding Iraq's industries and society so the United States can leave on its own terms. And his maneuvering room may soon shrink, since the Democratic challengers are desperate to break out of the herd on Iraq. If Mr. Bush does not demonstrate a clear and convincing strategy soon, he may face political pressure to bring home American troops under conditions that would be embarrassing for America and perilous for the Middle East. Of all the possible scenarios, the most important one to avoid is a poll-driven scramble to bring the troops home that suffers the same lack of preparation the administration showed at the end of major combat.

OK, so far I'm almost in half-agreement with the editorial. Then we come to the next graf:

Moving forward will require new thinking from an administration that has shown little inclination to learn from its mistakes. The United States needs help from its allies in Europe, but those countries are unlikely to provide it unless Mr. Bush abandons his "my way or the highway" approach. Simply saying it's time to pay up, as Mr. Bush did last Sunday, does not begin to address the concerns of economically stressed allies who felt trampled before the war. The lingering strains were evident on Friday in Geneva, where Secretary of State Colin Powell quickly rejected France's proposal for an unrealistically rapid buildup to Iraqi elections in the spring. (emphasis added)

Now, I'm a touch confused here. The editorial admits that the French were being unreasonable and ridiculous in their position on Iraq -- according to this VOA report, France wanted to turn over power to an Iraqi government next month. So why, exactly, is the Times is upset that Powell "quickly rejected" that proposal?

My guess: "lingering strains" between the Bush administration and the New York Times editorial page.

Let's hope time will heal these wounds.

For more on Iraq, check out OxBlog and this excellent backgrounder from the Economist. The latter points out that the Iraqis are slowly taking on more governing tasks:

The $20 billion allocation has also paved the way for America to transfer Iraq's budget to Iraqis. At present, Iraqi ministers complain bitterly about their American shadows; they felt left out in the cold by the 2003 budget, which was drawn up by the American administrator, Paul Bremer. The oil minister, for instance, said he had no idea how much was to be spent on rehabilitating the oilfields, and was told to seek finance on a case-by-case basis.

But Iraqi ministers have themselves helped to draw up the 2004 budget. For the first time in seven years, Iraqis will spend their own oil wealth. Few, under these circumstances, would relish handing responsibility back to the UN.

Iraqis will have a $13 billion budget in 2004, most of it from oil revenues, and all but $1 billion will be assigned for running costs, most of them salaries. The capital budget, the $20 billion, will be managed by Mr Bremer, with most of it going to the rebuilding and reform of Iraq's infrastructure. Of this, $6.6 billion will go to electricity, $2 billion to rehabilitate the oilfields, and much of the rest for public works.

posted by Dan on 09.15.03 at 11:17 AM


So why, exactly, is the Times is upset that Powell "quickly rejected" that proposal?

process over results

posted by: Hei Lun Chan on 09.15.03 at 11:17 AM [permalink]

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