US seeks 'someone like Jimmy Carter' to oversee administration after overthrow of Saddam
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
[The Independent - 13 February 2003]:
Establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, creation of an international body to control oil supplies and introduction of martial law are among plans for the transformation of Iraq after a military strike against Saddam Hussein.
Britain and America have been working for months on detailed proposals on how to rebuild Iraq after President Saddam. Documents obtained by The Independent outline the conclusions of some of the 17 US State Department working groups examining issues ranging from transitional justice to agricultural reforms.
The proposals do not represent a complete blueprint, but they reveal a previously undisclosed level of planning that is intensifying as the prospect of a war looms nearer. The plans will harden when US planners know which other countries will be involved.
"None of the issues comes into sharp focus until you know if you have a coalition or whether it is just the US alone," a State Department official said. "Waging the war without a coalition will be easy but waging the peace will be very difficult because the legacy of America is not particularly auspicious."
Experts from the UN development programme believe reconstruction of Iraq could cost $30bn (£18.5m) in the first two years. Individual countries will meet much of that though there is an agreement that money from Iraq's UN-supervised "oil for food" programme would pay some of it.
The future of Iraq's oilfields, which have reserves of at least 112 billion barrels, is perhaps the most contentious of the issues regarding the country's future. While the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has insisted the oilfields will be protected for the "people of Iraq", there are concerns in the international community that American companies will be given first access to them.
To counter this, one plan being considered is to establish an international body, possibly supervised by the UN, to oversee the operation of Iraq's oil industry. "They could name a blue ribbon panel of experts, maybe put someone like [former US president] Jimmy Carter in charge of it," a Bush administration official said.
The modernisation of the oil sector will be made more difficult if President Saddam adopts a "scorched earth" policy as he did when his forces were forced from Kuwait in 1991, setting fire to oilfields as they left. "[If he] utterly destroys the oil industry it will make for a horrific reconstruction project," Douglas Feith, the US under-secretary of defence told a Senate hearing this week.
In the initial aftermath of any war, Iraq would be governed by a senior US military officer, probably General Tommy Franks, with a civilian administrator. Names cited as possible administrators include Surin Pitsuwan, Thailand's former foreign minister and Bernard Kouchner, the former French health minister, who headed the UN civilian administration in Kosovo.
Iraqis would act as advisers to this administration before gradually taking control in a series of transitional authorities and the UN would oversee the transition to build a broad-based government. All plans emphasise the need to include Iraqis in all decision-making and utilise their expertise. "We want to leave as soon as Iraqi people are able to this themselves," the State Department official said.
While General Franks would initially impose martial law there are plans to set up civilian courts as soon as possible. Officials have also proposed a truth and reconciliation commission, similar to the one in South Africa, as a way of trying to bring Iraqi people together. This might enable elements of the present Iraqi government to remain.
Officials from the State Department, the Pentagon, the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development realise the rebuilding will be massive. They need to spend $6.2bn simply to upgrade the country's electricity supply.
Experts have also identified the need to modernise Iraq's agriculture and raise yields. Pest control equipment – restricted because of sanctions on pesticides – better seeds and spare parts for machinery would be needed. There are also plans to replant date palms in the south and fruit trees in the north for "important psychological value".
Plans to clean up Iraq's environment include restoration of the southern marshes, home of Iraq's marsh Arabs. President Saddam destroyed up to 84 per cent of the marshes in the early 1990s.