Friday, September 19, 2003

French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin: The Reconstruction of Iraq: "Far be it from us to play down the scale of the task and its complexity, or to maintain the illusion that it's an easy one. But we have one conviction: by continuing on the current path we run the risk of entering a spiral from which there is no exit. Time is short."

"The present Iraqi institutions, i.e. the Governing Council and recently appointed ministers, would be considered by the UN Security Council as the guardians of Iraqi sovereignty during the transition period. Very soon, perhaps in a month, an interim Iraqi government could be established based on these bodies with executive powers progressively transferred to it, including economic and budgetary activities.

"A personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General would be mandated to organize consultations with existing Iraqi institutions and the coalition authorities and to muster support from the States of the region. This envoy would report back to the Council and propose a timetable for the gradual transfer of powers to the interim government and the modalities for completing this political transformation. This timetable should provide for all the stages of a constitutional process with the aim of presenting a draft text by the end of the year. A general election could be envisioned as soon as possible, by spring 2004."

This French proposal, for the UN to take political control of the Iraqi process, and for an interim government, constitution, elections, and transfer of sovereignty to be completed all in the space of less than a year, is what the Bush Administration has found totally unacceptable, as it would symbolise the utter defeat of the neocon project for hegemony in the Middle East. But in the end the US may have no choice but to accept this offer, or one nearly as good, after a further year or two of quaqmire. Current US policy seems to be based mainly on hope, that in time things will somehow settle down and it will all turn to the good. The risk of things getting worse, however, is real. And as Villepin rightly says, time is short. The failure of vision on the part of the Bush Administration, the failure to appreciate the French/UN offer for what it is, could easily lead to a much more involved and difficult Middle East disaster.

No comments: