France, Russia and others who didn’t help the coalition should be cut out of the contracts for reconstruction. That is what Claudia Rosett refreshingly argues in today’s New York Times. Rosett says that contracts can’t be doled out as rewards — that’s the kind of thinking we’re trying to banish from Iraq — but that the list must be ‘predicated on deciding which countries can best be trusted to oversee huge rebuilding contracts in ways that square with the American goal of promoting a stable, free Iraq.’
Rosett writes that there not only is there little to indicate that Russia, France, and Germany do share these goals, but there is plenty of evidence that these countries constitute an “Axis of Avarice’ that allowed Saddam to run up big debts they now want the free Iraqis to pay. She noted their role in the U.N.’s notorious oil-for-food program: ‘What began as a reflief program for Iraqis suffering under sanctions turned into a multibillion-dollar contracting business flowing through the shrouded books of the United Nations.’ Mr. Annan, open those books!