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[casi] Course twists in Iraq

I don't know anything about the Fund for Peace but they do raise some
questions about the CPA's priorities for reconstruction in Iraq.

05.12.2003 [17:13]

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The United States has always favored big
flowery projects in emerging nations, dams or hospitals that can
carry the U.S. flag and a logo that says gift of the United States of

Such are some of the Bush administration's plans for Iraq. Among the
items for the $20.3 billion economic package Congress passed a few
weeks ago was a $150 million state-of-the-art children's hospital
with cutting-edge research and post-graduate development

The $9 million postal system would have bar codes and ZIP codes and
there is a plan for $100 million for building seven planned upscale
communities to accommodate 1,600 people.

On Wednesday, the Fund for Peace, a nearly five-decade-old study
group dedicated to relations between nations being conducted in
peace, issued a report on the situation in Iraq. The fund has
conducted similar research in Rwanda and the Balkans.

These are some of its ideas:

Instead of the $150 million hospital, spend the money on basic health
for the poor in urban ghettos and hotbeds of discontent. Iraq has
doctors and nurses, many of them Sunni Muslims favored by Saddam
Hussein, but they don't at this risky juncture need new ones or a
fancy hospital. They need to get the medical care out into the urban
centers of Baghdad and other cities.

"This would build on the progress already made in opening up 240
hospitals and 1,200 primary healthcare centers," the fund said.

Likewise for the ZIP and bar codes, the fund suggested. Instead, the
money should be use to begin a national population census "which is
essential for delimiting electoral districts, delivering public
services and determining fair distribution of oil revenues to correct
uneven development," the report said. This method was carried out in
Bosnia, where like Iraq, thousands had been killed, died in battle,
driven overseas or simply disappeared. The Organization for Security
and Cooperation in Europe conducted a census in Bosnia which formed
the basis for restoring property rights, setting up voting and
punishing ethnic cleansing among other things.

The idea to build a housing complex for 1,600 people should be
dropped, the fund suggested, for contributing to low-income housing
for the 1 million internally displaced persons and some 500,000
refugees from prior wars, including refugees from the 1980s Iran-Iraq

The problem in Washington for the fund's ideas is that they don't
lend themselves to U.S. companies bidding on the project. The
contributions go into larger pots and might be distributed by the
United Nations or others.

The fund, like the White House, is deeply worried about private
militias in the country. The coalition command said earlier this week
that it was planning to use militia members in security forces, but
it said they would be carefully vetted, loyal to the government and
not the religious or personal leader of the militia and would join up
as individuals.

The fund said that if nothing were done to disband the militias, "the
result would be 'no-go' zones controlled by militant clerics,
sectarian politicians and warlords."

The fund's greatest concern is the acceleration of the Bush
administration's effort to get out of Iraq. Elections for drafters of
the constitution are to be elected by March 15, 2005, and a permanent
Iraqi government is supposed to be in place by Dec. 31, 2005.

The fund argued in its report that this shift shows a "fundamental
flaw in not understanding how states fail."

The fund said the "basic misperception of the pre-war period was
equating strongman rule with a strong state, a mistake commonly made
by observers viewing autocratic regimes from a distance."

According to the report, if low-intensity insurgency is allowed to
continue, "it will eventually make the country ungovernable and the
U.S. military presence untenable." Part of the fund's purpose is to
build public support to be patient.

"There can be no fast track," Pauline Baker, author of the fund's
report, said at a news conference Wednesday.


Mark Parkinson

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