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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test