Friday, January 16, 2004

US policy malleable?

Canada will be allowed to bid on primary construction work in Iraq:

President Bush said yesterday he will let companies in Canada begin bidding on primary construction contracts to rebuild Iraq, a privilege not previously granted to America's antiwar northern neighbor.

Mr. Bush said the deal to let Canada in on the prime contracts was broached when the president placed a call to newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin late last month.

"I told him that Canada would be given serious consideration for contracting," Mr. Bush said in remarks to reporters after meeting with Mr. Martin on the second day of the Special Summit of the Americas.

I don't quite understand the flip-flop. Either primary work will be done by those in the coalition only, or it should be open to everyone. To allow the work to be done by the coalition, plus Canada, makes US policy look malleable and just less than serious. Perhaps there is some strategy behind this in that by allowing Canada to do primary work the US can claim to be flexible and understanding of countries who were not part of the coalition but are helping in other areas, like Afghanistan. But does that mean we have to allow Germany to do bid on primary work in Iraq too? Their credentials are no worse than Canada's and might even be better, considering the number of German troops in Afghanistan and the fact that Germany is allowing us to fly wounded soldiers from Iraq to Germany for medical treatment. So then, if we are to allow both Canada and Germany to take part in the primary work in Iraq, the US is really just sticking their finger further in to France's eye. And while that perhaps it not such a bad thing, it is a little unnecessary and doesn't even hurt them bad enough to be worth the effort, considering that French companies can still be subcontracted for Iraqi work. The US should adopt more consistent policy regarding the primary construction in Iraq and either only allow coalition members to do the work or, alternatively, allow anyone to bid on the work.


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