Business sense

THE expected shift in the US administration’s policy on participation in Iraq’s reconstruction by countries that opposed the war, attests to a broader change in attitude.



President George Bush is understood to have said that he wanted to recognise the importance of contributions of Canada and others in Madrid, and that includes France as well. Up for grabs is an estimated $18.6 billion worth of contracts as part of the Iraq package cleared by the US Congress and which will constitute the second round of bidding. If the US Defence department does follow up its statements with actual changes in the rules for tendering, it will be a good thing. It is high time for the US administration to differentiate between policies of war and policies of reconstruction. France, for instance, has advanced technology, so it should be encouraged to participate in the rebuilding effort. Indeed, by broadening the roster of countries that are eligible to bid, the Americans in charge of Iraq’s reconstruction would be able to get the most technically sound as well as competitive bids. Logically, the most daunting tasks should go to tenders submitted by companies from such industrialised nations as Japan, Germany, Britain and France among others. These industrial powers together with the United States belong in the first grade on the index of technological sophistication. On the other hand, East Europe, China, Russia and India are second grade when it comes to the same tasks because of the poor quality of their products, technology and services. So if a decision is taken to end the embargo on countries that opposed the invasion from winning US-funded contracts and to invite France and others to bring their skills and capabilities to the reconstruction process, the public will view the move as proof that administration officials in charge of Iraq affairs are doing things the right way. In this way, Washington will also have acknowledged the crucial difference between political policies driven by self-interest and business practices grounded on merit.


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