Renegade Reconstruction

The war in Iraq conjures up many different views and emotions among the people and nations of this world. Many were opposed to all military action whatsoever, and yet others stood as ardent proponents of a full-scale invasion. Regardless of what one’s views might have been, however, the most difficult part of the war is over: it is time for the world to begin looking towards rebuilding Iraq. Although views held about the war itself were manifold, most people desired and still want a peaceful and productive reconstruction of Iraq. Many believe that world cooperation and commitment are necessary to achieving this result. As this is the case, it is not surprising that many in the world are outraged at the way the United States is handling post-war Iraq. The Bush administration has already dropped the ball on the rebuilding process and perpetuated not only the destruction of priceless artifacts, but also the looting of Baghdad and the spread of hatred of the U.S. abroad. The looting that has taken root in Iraqi cities, namely Baghdad, has proven to be as destructive a force to the Iraqi infrastructure and economy as any bombing campaign. Not only have private businesses and homes been ransacked, but some of the world’s oldest artifacts and works of art, housed in Iraqi museums, have fallen into the wrong hands. The National Museum of Iraq, as well as the House of Wisdom, Iraq’s national library, lies in ruins. Gone are the historical artifacts and records of nearly seven thousand years of Iraqi civilization. The officials in Washington failed to provide for sufficient security in Iraq. The unarmed museum security sat helpless as a crowd, easily able to be subdued by American forces, broke down the front door and commenced to run through the halls with wheelbarrows. Besides plundering the streets of Baghdad, the Bush administration wants to loot the Iraqi people’s oil. Only days ago, the administration proposed that Iraqi oil be used to pay American companies for the rebuilding of the stricken Middle Eastern nation. To make the situation worse, after the administration abandoned this idea, it began to look for companies to aid in repairing Iraqi infrastructure. The only companies considered were American. Ultimately, the Bechtel Group of San Francisco won the $680 million contract. Also included in the plans for rebuilding Iraq is the construction of American military bases. These bases would make permanent the American presence in Iraq, which would serve only to hinder the nascent Iraqi republic’s efforts to construct a viable nation from scratch. The American plan (if it can be so called) of rebuilding has ostracized the rest of the world. The plan calls for minimal United Nations involvement. This monopolization of the rebuilding process in Iraq not only weakens the position that any future Iraqi government (manufactured in Washington) might have in the world, but it also jeopardizes America’s relationship with many other nations. Overall, the rebuilding process as it has played out thus far has not improved the conditions of the Iraqi people; moreover, it has hurt the U.S. in its quest to subdue the anti-Americanism that runs rampant in much of the world today–especially the Middle East. It has hurt, perhaps irreparably, the bonds that America shares with the rest of the international community. The Iraqi people and the world have lost some of the nationally and religiously defining artifacts of Iraqi heritage and culture. The likelihood that the full assortment of artifacts pillaged will ever be returned to the museum is small. The rebuilding plan as a whole is riddled with things that the rest of the world, especially the Middle East, will continue to label as unjust. The slighting of the United Nations in the process will only further this sentiment. The administration must address these issues in its plan. Although Bush and his cohorts have already done much damage, perhaps time for an overhaul of our policy still remains.