White House has plans to rebuild Iraq within a year

America is planning a bold effort to rebuild Iraq almost on its own and have the structure of a post-Saddam society in place within a year.

According to 100 pages of confidential Bush administration documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, nearly all initial contracts for reconstruction would go to US firms. American specialists and "shadow ministers" would play a leading role in setting up new healthcare and education systems and remodelling Iraq's government and civil service.

The leaked plans, following disclosure of other proposals and blueprints in recent weeks, suggest much has not yet been finalised.

But the thrust is clear. Regardless of President Bush's aversion to nation building during the 2000 election campaign, Washington is about to embark on the most ambitious such exercise since it supervised the reintegration of Germany and Japan into the international system after the Second World War.

The first firm indications of what it has in mind will come in the supplemental budget request, which could reach $100bn (£63bn), the administration will submit to Congress to cover the cost of war and its immediate aftermath.

But the plans reported by the WSJ yesterday give a flavour. Just $50m has been earmarked for NGO humanitarian groups, compared with a first tranche of reconstruction contracts pencilled in for US companies, worth $1.5bn. Many of the companies involved have been substantial donors to the Republican Party. Washington's grand design threatens to complicate even further its strained relations with the UN, after the failure of the Security Council to agree a second resolution authorising war. There is bound to be fresh confusion surrounding the formal role the UN will play in forming a new Iraq – and who will pay for it.

At one level, the slant of the scheme towards American companies and direction is part of the battle to win over Iraqi public opinion, to prove, in the words of one analyst, that Washington "is putting its money where its mouth is". Having launched a war to destroy President Saddam's Iraq, America wants to claim credit for building a new nation. But the administration's approach appears to reflect its longstanding but deepening impatience towards multilateral institutions. Bureaucratic meanderings, America believes, have slowed redevelopment work in Afghanistan.

Even before it has been formally presented, the scheme is meeting scepticism verging on incredulity among traditional European allies and the UN. Much of the disbelief stems from the short timescale envisaged. A year after the end of hostilities, America wants to have the nearly 3,000 miles of main roads in Iraq repaired and fully open. According to their blueprint, by spring 2004 referral hospitals will be functioning in 21 Iraqi cities.

Most ambitious of all, perhaps, are the education goals: guaranteed schooling and school supplies for all of Iraq's 4.2 million children, and 25,000 schools functioning at "standard level of quality".

Mark Malloch-Brown, the outspoken head of the UN Development Programme, told the WSJ that "the idea all this is done in a year flies in the face of human history". Aid groups accused the Bush administration of painting a rosy picture to score public relations points and enable America to disengage more quickly.

Many diplomats believe in the end Washington will turn enthusiastically to multilateral bodies, given the likely resentment of many individual countries at being asked to pay up, when the reconstruction effort is being led by the United States, not the United Nations.

In the Azores on Sunday, Mr Bush left the door open, promising to seek new Security Council resolutions to encourage "broad participation" in rebuilding of the country. But in the current acrimonious climate, the prospects for such resolutions are unclear.

Bush's ambitions for Iraq

Health Hospitals functioning in 21 cities. Maternity care for everyone

Housing Renovation of nearly 20,000 houses

Schools 100 per cent of schools back in operation

Economic governance Central Bank and Ministry of Finance fully operative; legal framework "hospitable" to private enterprise

Major infrastructure Iraq's main port at Umm Qasr open; all main roads repaired; 10 generation plants rebuilt; all commercial air links restored

Source: WSJ/USAID

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor