International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 28, 2003

October 28, 2003





**  Commentators view the Madrid Donors Conference as a "qualified success."

**  Even anti-war papers declare that helping the Iraqi people is "a moral imperative."

**  Europe's "miserliness" is defended as understandable, criticized as short-sighted.

**  Suspicions will remain as long as the U.S. retains effective control over reconstruction.




U.S. 'did better than expected'--  Recognizing that the Oct. 23-24 Madrid donors conference was "only the first step in a long path full of difficulties," papers in Europe and Asia termed it "a qualified success" that produced "better than normal" returns.  While "the total figure will fall far short" of estimated needs, Britain's conservative Times argued that "sufficient funds have been pledged for initial rebuilding," adding that private investment will follow with improved security.  Pakistan's independent Din called the result "a start" and noted "participants demonstrated more generosity and interest than expected."


'Everyone has an interest' in a stable, democratic Iraq--  Some writers held that obtaining aid "will be difficult" as long as Iraq remains "occupied without a UN mandate."  A number of dailies, including those that had opposed the war, stated the conflict "created a new reality" leaving "no alternative to a U.S. occupation" and the way to end it quickly was by donating.  "That Norway and the rest of the world are picking up part of the bill" for reconstruction, said the independent Dagbladet, "is a recognition that the stabilization of Iraq is important for the whole of the Middle East."  A Dutch editorial agreed that countries that opposed the war "cannot stay on the sidelines" now because of the "enormous importance" of stabilizing Iraq.


The Paris-Berlin-Moscow 'Troika' needs to take the long view--  The European press noted the "clear sign of disregard" shown by France, Germany and Russia in sending lower-ranking officials to Madrid.  France's left-of-center Liberation--while itself supporting aid to Iraq as "a moral imperative"--explained that "the lack of generosity in Madrid can be explained by Bush's desire to retain control over Iraq's transition."  Czech and Canadian dailies criticized that attitude as "short-sighted," while Denmark's center-right Berlingske Tidende called on the "Troika" to "change their policies on this issue immediately."  The people of Iraq were suffering because of their "on-going political game."


Many argue stabilization will lag while America "effectively controls" Iraq--  Analysts judged that "transparency is essential for money to start arriving in Iraq."  Centrist and leftist papers in Europe and Asia grumbled that the U.S. "is dragging its feet about offering guarantees on transparency" and claimed that contracts "are almost exclusively reserved" for U.S. multinationals.  Spain's conservative La Razon echoed many broadsheets, complaining that Iraq's oil money "is being spent by Bremer as he thinks best, with no international control, transparency or auditors."  Japan's financial Nihon Kezai stated that funds raised in Madrid needed to be spent "in a visible manner that gives direct benefit to the Iraqi people."


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 60 reports from 30 countries, October 23-27, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date. 




BRITAIN:  "Guns But Also Butter"


The conservative Times had this to day (10/27):  "Significantly, the orchestrators of the attacks on coalition forces and Iraqis working to rebuild the country have been forced to increase the bounty they pay to hit-and-run squads and suicide bombers.  That hardly suggests mounting popular support for a 'war of resistance'.  Many Iraqis want a quick passage to self-government, but in Baghdad last month 67 per cent told Gallup pollsters that they expect life to be much better in five years--better than it is today, and that it was under Saddam.  After the better than expected returns from the Madrid conference, sufficient funds have been pledged for initial rebuilding.  But private investment will follow only with security, which is why the military operation should not be scaled back.  The attack on Mr. Wolfowitz may convince Saturday's 'out now' demonstrators in Washington that they are right.  It is the opposite conclusion that should be drawn."


"Reviving Iraq"


The independent Financial Times concluded (10/27):  "Overall, the reconstruction money is well short of the $56bn the World Bank has estimated Iraq needs over the next four years.  Nevertheless, Madrid can be considered a qualified success.  Despite still raw diplomatic feelings over the legitimacy of the war, the Madrid gathering recognized that everyone now has an interest in trying to create a stable, independent and democratic Iraq.  Not only do Iraqis deserve a break.  Failure in Iraq would also incubate violence in the region and the world--without discriminating too much between those who were for or against the war....  There is a larger question about this level of aid, which inevitably will result in money being diverted away from the poorest countries and vital and underfunded campaigns such as the Aids program....  The reluctance of Arab countries and European opponents of the war to be seen to be financing an occupying power, as well as the emphasis on loans in Madrid, may both turn out to be useful.  The first rightly reminds the U.S. that a successful reconstruction of Iraq requires a degree of external and internal legitimacy, under the political umbrella of the UN, that the Bush administration cannot yet bring itself to countenance."


"Donors Must Build A Market Economy In Iraq"


A commentary in the independent Financial Times stressed (10/24):  "The donors’ conference for Iraq that began on Thursday in Madrid comes at a time of growing acceptance of the need for wider international participation in helping Iraq to recover....  If their hard-earned funds are to have the maximum benefit, donors’ attention must focus on helping build an Iraq that will adopt an open, liberal market economy....  This has implications for the Provisional Authority, which must strive--as it is doing--to secure the rule of law, create an independent judiciary and ensure that the economy is managed in a prudent, non-inflationary way.… Overcoming the effects of war and years of economic mismanagement will not be easy.  But donors’ funds and support for private investment, if they are intelligently deployed, could make a world of difference."


"Taking A Shorter Term View Of Rebuilding Is Not A Cause For Gloom"


Foreign Editor Bronwen Maddox asserted in the conservative Times (10/24):  “Even though the Bush administration is now routinely criticized for giving too little thought to rebuilding Iraq, this week’s conference in Madrid, trying to drum up cash for just that, is in danger of making the opposite mistake of looking further ahead than is possible.… The total figure will fall far short of the $55 billion or so analysts say Iraq needs.  But that is not a cause for gloom.  The funds raised could be plenty for the first year, and that is what matters most.  Oil, security, and a constitution: get those right, and it will be much easier to raise money than it is now.  Get those wrong, and even if tens of billions were raised this week, they would be wasted.… The time available may be much, much shorter than many at Madrid are assuming.… U.S. officials have hinted that mid-2004 is a good target for getting troops out of Iraq, or at least cutting numbers greatly.  Now British officials are quietly saying they want the same.  Foreign troops largely out within nine months?  That is the possibility on which the Madrid conference should focus.”


"Oil, Reconstruction And Reasons For Suspicion Over U.S. Intentions"


An editorial in the center-left Independent held (10/24):  “The Iraq donors’ conference in Madrid is likely to close this afternoon on a positive note, with delight about the large number of potential contributors represented and pledges of $5bn as good as in the bank.  This outcome qualifies as positive...only because the Americans and British lowered expectations so comprehensively in advance.… The decision to place foreign assistance in a new fund to be administered by the UN and the World Bank embodies the best and worst of U.S. concessions.  On the one hand, the creation of the new fund probably ensured unanimous passage of the recent UN resolution, and so encouraged contributions at Madrid....  On the other hand, this fund has one glaring omission: the oil industry, including the oil revenue, remains the responsibility of the U.S. and British provisional authority....  Many opponents of the war worldwide, not to speak of many Iraqis, always suspected that Washington’s chief ambition was to secure a cheap and abundant source of oil.  The preferential treatment accorded by the U.S. authorities early on to such well-connected companies as Halliburton and Bechtel did nothing to dispel that impression....  So long as such a large slice of Iraq’s future is effectively controlled by America...suspicions will persist about U.S. intentions, and the help that is so desperately needed will not be forthcoming.”


FRANCE:  "Billions For Baghdad"


Luc de Barochez judged in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/25):  “A rainfall of dollars fell over Iraq on Friday.  But the result of the gigantic ‘telethon’ held in Madrid is theoretical because for the time being they are only pledges....  Thanks to its persistent pressure the U.S. managed to convince its main partners to overcome their hesitations....  While in financial terms the conference’s results fall short of the expectations, politically speaking the U.S. is talking about the Madrid conference as a success....  Still, the international community fell short of finding its lost unity....  The conference did not manage to lift the main obstacles to Iraq’s economic recovery: security and political uncertainty.”


"A Chance Not To Be Missed"


Jean de Belot judged in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/24):  “America’s acknowledgment of its difficulties (in Iraq) opens the door to a new dialogue.  The side of peace was wise enough not to rejoice in the fact that it was right about Iraq.  By voting in favor of the UN resolution and getting an agreement from Iran, it has proven its good intentions....  The idea now is to re-establish the dialogue, not necessarily on Iraq, but on terrorism.  This is where the opportunity lies.  While the war on Iraq was open to criticism, no one can question the fact that the entire Western bloc is concerned about the terrorist threat....  It is time to take this opportunity and to possibly impose a different way to administer Iraq.  After all it is inconceivable that the U.S. should call for help in financing Iraq’s reconstruction while it is not willing to share the contracts or management of the crisis.”




Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (10/24):  “It is a moral imperative and a strategic necessity to help the Iraqi people....  Therefore we should be applauding the Donors Conference while wondering about the reticence of countries such as France....  But there are reasons to this apparent stinginess....  The reconstruction of Iraq is for the time being solely in the hands of the U.S. administration and profits are almost exclusively reserved for a handful of American multinationals....  In addition, Iraq is lacking in security as well as a legal framework, two basic necessities for the country to begin to function.  The lack of generosity in Madrid can be explained by Bush's desire to retain control over Iraq’s transition....  The losers will be the Iraqis as well as the American taxpayers.”


"Iraq Under America’s Control"


Jean-Christophe Ploquin observed in Catholic La Croix (10/24):  “France is right to hold off on sending troops to Iraq or fund its reconstruction....  The U.S. is dragging its feet about offering guarantees on transparency that would create an atmosphere of trust....  Mistrust in the face of America's lack of eagerness to be transparent about the granting of contracts remains.  The U.S. wants to retain control over the military and financial situation....  As time passes the more it looks as though this desire for control in Iraq is tied to mercantile interests.  This context largely explains why France, Russia and Germany wish for a quick transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis.”


GERMANY:  "Improvements Are Necessary "


Markus Ziener judged in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (10/27):  "If final evidence of the helplessness of the U.S. superpower in Iraq was necessary, then yesterday's events delivered it.  Not even in the well-protected Al-Rashid Hotel, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz was safe....  What Iraq now needs are economic successes, and this as quickly as possible, and it needs back its political sovereignty to make the enemy image of the occupation power disappear.  If this does not happen, the attacks will continue for the unforeseeable future.  Maybe it was also this insight that prompted the participants in the Madrid donors' conference to rethink....  Now it is important to channel the money into the right projects, and the United States should leave it to those who have experience in these things:  the United Nations, the World Bank, the Europeans."


"No Money For Oil"


Hans Monath argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (10/26):  "What sense would it make to make many soldiers and a lot of money available for a concept that the Berlin government considers not very promising for good reasons?  Even those who invest taxpayers' money in useless projects during better times are stupid.  In addition, the Berlin government has pressed in vain for international controls over Iraqi oil revenue and the relief funds because this is the only possibility to reduce distrust.  Those who pay immediately would also give away any political means of pressure.  When Washington, in view of the setbacks, thinks about greater UN influence and a transition government that has a better legitimation in a few months, what could then be a lure for the Berlin government to promote this process?"


"No Alternative In Iraq"


Wolfgang Koydl noted in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/27):  "One may have rejected America's intervention in Iraq, maybe for good reasons.  But we cannot make the war unhappen.  It has created a new reality and this says that there is no alternative to the U.S. occupation until further notice.  Those who want it to end as quickly as possible can contribute by offering money.  Malicious glee at every U.S. setback is detrimental only to the Iraqis and pleases the murderous gangs of the Saddam's supporters."


"Donors' Conference"


Rainer Suetfeld commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (10/24):  "The fetishism about numbers in Madrid was nothing but a farce.  The real success of the Madrid donors' conference is this:  Rarely before was the real situation of the country, ranging from the threatening security situation to the disastrous infrastructure, be conveyed so openly to the public.   In this situation, the picture of flourishing landscapes, presented by the U.S. occupiers and Iraqi's governing council, did not help much.  Nobody believed their words, at least not the investors present at the conference.  Those who listened carefully recognized what was thrown back at the United States again and again: its unilateral moves, Washington stubbornness in Baghdad and in the UN Security Council are the main obstacle for greater international involvement in Iraq.  The UN resolution, which was praised in every speech of the coalition of the willing, was criticized by others as a missed opportunity....  It is a beaten winner who returns to Washington following this wrestling for funds.  But this is something the American voters will not learn like the Iraqi people cannot in reality hope for fresh money without increasing their debt following this bazaar of donors in which the banks presented the framework for future payments."


"Reservation Of Usually Generous Europe Is Understandable"


P. Kaminski commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (10/23):  "Since the United States has realized that it cannot achieve any progress on its own in Iraq and since the 'adventure' in the country is very expensive, it is trying to present the Madrid conference as a success....  But the United States continues to conceal how it spends money from Iraqi oil exports.  And by awarding billion dollar contracts only to U.S. companies, it seems to prove all those right who accuse the United States of exploiting Iraq economically.  In view of this situation, the reservation of the usually generous Europeans is only understandable.  The Donors Conference is not under a good star."


"Iraq Pictures, Iraq Funds"


Jacques Schuster concluded in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/24):  "Almost five months after the end of the war, the allied forces have Iraq by no means under control...but within five months, they have succeeded in achieving something that sounded utopian a while ago:  for the first time in its history, Iraq has a government comprised of members from all the ethnic groups in the country....  At the same time, the press is flourishing and under the influence of this fresh wind, Saudi Arabia has allowed local elections...and today, U.S. companies...pass on 45 percent of their orders to Iraqi companies....  Baghdad is booming.  With a view to the stability of the region, it is in the interest of everybody that this progress not remain a snail.  A precondition is the success of the Madrid donors' conference....  But together with France and some other opponents, Germany treats Iraq as if it were an unexploded shell.  It is the old grudge against Washington.  The result is that Berlin is not even represented with a minister in Madrid....  Again we can see that this government has no instinct, no feeling for style, no feeling for symbols, and that Europeans continue to be at odds with each other."


ITALY:  "Iraq, America Is Worried -- ‘Aid Is Far From Goal’"


Mino Vignolo wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/24):  “As he opened the Donors Conference in Madrid, Kofi Annan put his criticism aside regarding the Anglo-American military operation and looked toward the future seeking to bring the ‘Iraq dossier’ back under the aegis of the UN with a realistic speech.… 332 companies from around the world are participating in the forum.  Some, especially American ones, are already on the territory, others are anxious to set foot there.… Secretary of State Powell admitted: ‘It could take time to reach the 55 billion dollar goal.’  Iraq needs 36 billion dollars until 2007, plus 19 billion dollars to get security and the oil industry back on its feet.  Even if the result falls short of the ambitious goal, it will be interpreted as a first, very important step towards reconstruction.  The priorities set by Annan are three: security, an autonomous Iraqi leadership, institutional reforms.”


"'The World Must Help Iraq'"


Alessandro Oppes judged in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/24):  "’Donate, donate generously.’  Kofi Annan’s appeal sounds like an almost desperate attempt to erase with one stroke all the disputes and to kick off reconstruction plans in Iraq.  He opened the Donors Conference...but the Secretary General knows once again that there is a risk that the UN will be left on the sidelines of the decision-making process....  Annan is asking for a clear ‘signal’ from participating countries.  But the whole day yesterday, diverse and contradictory signals came from Madrid....  After all, the U.S. still has to clarify in what measure their allocation will be directly handled by U.S. companies and what percentage will increase the joint fund.  The pie of the reconstruction is enormous and European companies are starting to step forward: in parallel to the governments conference, 300 representatives from the private sector are trying to assure themselves a place in a business....  But the distrust and disputes are not dissipated by the appeals for ‘generosity.’"


"Annan: ‘Immediate Reconstruction’"


Alberto Negri noted in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (10/24):  “Inside, in the azure blue conference hall in Madrid, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan makes his appeal to donor countries: ‘We would all like to see sovereignty restored to Iraq as soon as possible, but we can’t wait until that day to begin reconstruction.… Now, on the wings of Resolution 1511 approved last week by the Security Council, the Secretary General is ready to give moral support to the American occupation in Iraq.  Outside, another realism prevails--the concrete and immediate one of businessmen: ‘To get to Baghdad we must go through Washington,’ said straightforwardly Bart Fisher, co-founder of the U.S.-Iraq Business Council, one of the lobbies that actively handle Iraqi contracts.… For American companies, the challenge regarding the reconstruction has already begun on the field, with funds controlled by Washington.”


RUSSIA:  "What's In The Kitty"


Gennadiy Sysoyev commented in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (10/24):  "It is about the U.S. control over postwar Iraq.  In fact, it is what the whole Iraq story, with the Shock and Awe operation as its climax, is all about.  Of course, it is best when you don't have to split up with anybody.  Initially, the United States hoped it wouldn't have to.  But half a year later, after its impressive victory over Saddam, Washington realized that it was not to be the sole ruler in Baghdad.  As things are going, the Americans...would have to pay a price exorbitant even for the world's only superpower....  As they insist on an early transfer of power to a local government, the U.S. opponents not so much worry about the Iraqi people's future as strive to bring U.S. control over Iraq to a minimum.  Having failed to get a concrete date for the transfer of power from the United States, its opponents have made it clear that they are not going to send troops or share military and political responsibility for what is happening in Iraq with the United States.  But they would not mind partaking of the economic pork barrel.  So they are trying to persuade the Americans to offer some of it."


AUSTRIA:  "For A Few Dollars More"


In centrist Die Presse, foreign affairs writer Thomas Vieregge commented (10/24):  “The leaders of the anti-war camp--Russia, Germany and France--felt it wasn’t even necessary to send a ministerial-level delegation, a clear sign of their disregard and possibly also an attempt at revenge....  One of the problems is the fact that Iraq is a bottomless pit.  The country boasting the world’s second largest oil reserves is offering billion-dollar contracts on a silver platter, but potential clients would in turn have to pump billions of dollars into rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure.  In the meantime, a number of U.S. corporations have already secured themselves a head start....  The world has grown wary of the risks.”


"European Pride"


Markus Bernath argued in liberal Der Standard (10/24):  “It would only seem logical for the U.S. to pay for repairing the damage it has done.  Still, it would be wrong.  The Europeans would gamble away their chance at co-shaping the Iraqi reconstruction process, should they refuse to share the costs.  They could support their position in the Arab world as a corrective counterweight to America’s political interests, as long as they make sure that rebuilding the country with the world’s second largest oil reserves does not turn into a purely American undertaking, but remains under World Bank control.  These days, European pride does nothing to help the Iraqi people.” 


BELGIUM:  "Iraq Reconstruction"


Foreign editor Jean Vanempten wrote in financial daily De Financieel-Economische Tijd (10/25):  "The United States knows that it heavily underestimated the reconstruction (of Iraq) and that the regime change did not open the road towards democracy.  That is why it is now begging for money in Madrid and why the UN is allowed to collect money for the reconstruction of Iraq.  The unstable situation in Iraq makes it impossible to boost the oil production so that the need for money is growing day by day.  The basic needs of the Iraqi people cannot be met at this moment.  Moreover, the search for money is accompanied by a search for troops which are to take over the role of the tired American solders.  However, because of the current situation in Iraq there are not many candidates and the United States must count on countries where it can virtually literally buy troops.  That keeps the cost high."  


"Belgium's Pledge"


Xavier Diskeuve opined in Catholic Vers L’Avenir (10/25):  “Yesterday, Belgium has agreed to participate in Iraq’s reconstruction.  The Iraqis realize that this is a unique chance for them and that they are going to benefit from the Belgians’ most impressive inventions.  They know that their country will become a modern and efficient federal state, divided in numerous regions and communities whose territories will overlap.  They already know that many Iraqis will be given the opportunity to quickly become Parliamentarians, or even Ministers!  They know that they will have plenty of highways--perhaps not in good condition, but lit at night.  They know that they will have two kinds of stamps, the ‘priority’ for the mail that must reach its recipient, and the ‘non-priority’ for the mail about which no one cares....  The Iraqis will also have plenty of public radio stations--one for news programs, one for classical music, one for rock and roll, and one for youngsters.  Yet, they will continue to prefer to listen to commercial radio stations.  And with the help of Belgium, they will one day obtain that the Tour de France begins in Iraq, with two or three legs starting in the most influential Ministers’ cities.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Iraqi Figures In Madrid"


Adam Cerny editorialized in the business daily Hospodarske Noviny (10/27):  "The Madrid discussions about who will donate how much to the reconstruction of Iraq would have been easier, if disputes over military action were not projected into them.  Figures from Madrid show that reservations about the post-war organization of Iraq have not vanished yet.  Despite all reservations, nobody is interested in a political debacle in Iraq.  But, all the reservations, unfortunately, do not prevent repercussions from existing disagreements.  For reasons of political influence, and sometimes also prestige, each of the parties involved will enumerate potential gains and losses before any step is taken.  The biggest risk, therefore, is contained in the possibility that short-term interests would jeopardize long-term ones."


"Greedy Europe"


Radek Honzak commented in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny (10/25):  "Although the donors' conference for Iraq in Madrid did not end up as badly as had been expected, the total collected remains well below the sum, which the devastated country needs.  Europe especially is falling behind.  The main opponents of the war--France and Germany--did not offer anything above what they already contributed.  The reason for their unwillingness to help might be revenge against the U.S. for ignoring their opposition to the war....  In such case, this tactic is shortsighted.  If the situation in Iraq improves, the U.S. will take Europe even less into account when deciding about its foreign policy.  And if Iraq becomes a 'new Vietnam,' this or the next president will pull U.S. forces out of the country.  And then particularly, Europe would have to bear the consequences of such chaos, including a spread of terrorism."  


"Madrid, Iraq, Oil, And Debts"


Jan Machacek pointed in the centrist, leading daily MF Dnes (10/25):  "Three of the most important, neuralgic points, with which the reconstruction in Iraq must deal, remain unsolved even after the donors' conference in Madrid:  Several billion U.S. dollars will probably be collected during the conference and in the following months, but Iraq's overall national debt is an unimaginable USD350 billion.  The speed of reconstruction will to a significant extent depend on how Iraq will succeed in negotiations leading to forgiveness of its debt....  Everything connected to Iraqi oil is an explosive political topic, but if nobody knows how much Iraq will export; it is impossible even to estimate how much it needs for reconstruction."


DENMARK:  "Warrior Countries Should Pay Compensation In Iraq"


Left-wing Information commented (10/27):  “The war coalition countries, including Denmark, ought to pay considerable compensation to the Iraqi people for the devastation the bombing and occupation has brought to their nation.”


"Anti-Intervention Troika Must Change Course On Reconstruction Support"


Center-right Berlingske Tidende editorialized (10/26):  “It was not possible to get the troika of war opposition countries to make increased contributions to the reconstruction of Iraq.  But Russia, Germany and France ought to change their policies on this issue immediately.  It is the people of Iraq who are suffering as the result of the on-going political game.” 


NETHERLANDS:  "Iraq And The Money"


Influential independent NRC Handelsblad  judged (10/25):  "The donor conference by far did not yield the 55 billion dollar which the UN and the World Bank said are necessary....  But this is not too big a disaster because the institutional capacity of Iraq is still so poor that only five billion dollars per year can be spent properly....  Another aspect of the legacy of the Saddam era is that the country has huge foreign debts of hundreds of billions of dollars.  The United States started a campaign to pardon these debts....  France, Russia, and Germany are the main creditors....  But there are many more obstacles.  Foreign investors are not too eager to start operating in Iraq....  The situation is still unsafe and the organization of reconstruction is very unclear....   The importance of political stability and economic progress is enormous.  That is why the countries which opposed the war cannot stay on the sidelines now that economic and financial support is needed for the reconstruction of Iraq.  They need to make a generous gesture."  




Conservative De Telegraaf took this view (10/25):  "Normally, the Netherlands is very generous when it comes to development assistance even in cases where it was not clear whether that money was well-spent.  But now that Iraq is crying for help the Dutch Cabinet has let Iraq down....  The Netherlands only promised 14 million Euros.  True, the Netherlands is already making a military contribution but it could have given more money.... The Netherlands should have also set conditions to the money it made available and by doing so it would have helped Dutch companies to play a role in Iraq.  Other countries had no problem setting conditions to their donation. There is no reason for the Netherlands to try to be more Catholic than the Pope."


NORWAY:  "Follow The Money"


The independent Dagbladet commented (10/26):  “That Norway and the rest of the world are picking up part of the bill for the misrule of Saddam Hussein and wars against Iran and Kuwait is a recognition that the stabilization of Iraq is important for the whole of the Middle East.  But also for the rest of the world....  Now it is important to follow the money so that it will benefit Iraqis.”


POLAND:  "Europe Is Taking Revenge"


Robert Soltyk wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/24):  “Despite its declared will to assist in building a democratic Iraq, Europe once again resolved to show President Bush a ‘forget it’ sign....  In fact, this should not come as surprise because during the war [in Iraq], which most Europeans did not want, the European Union sent warnings to the U.S. saying: ‘Do not expect us to pay this time.’… The real reason for Europe’s miserliness is its distrust toward the politics of America, which took Iraq’s reconstruction under its wing....  It seems that Paris and Berlin have already made bets that Bush will lose next year’s presidential elections, and that his successor will be more conciliatory toward Europe than the current administration....  The worse things go in Iraq, the worse for Bush, so all the better for Europe.  But this game by the Europeans is dangerous, and it may prove detrimental, mainly for themselves.  If the situation becomes really unbearable (‘another Vietnam’), then the incumbent or another U.S. president may leave Iraq to its own fate, and the problems (immigration, terrorism) will fall chiefly on Europe.  If things go well in Iraq, and the success is achieved without money and troops from the EU, then the U.S. president will have even less standing with the Union in the future.”


ROMANIA:  "More Generous Than Expected"


In the financially oriented daily, Curentul foreign policy analyst Roxana Frosin commented (10/27):  “Leaving aside somehow the misunderstandings that preceded the Gulf military intervention, in March of this year, the international donors proved to be more generous than Washington even expected, taking into account that (the U.S.) is confronted with a chaotic situation in Iraq, and with the opposition of certain European countries, such as France and Germany, and the Arab world, generally speaking.  Like Russia, the French-German axis refused to jump in with financial help or troops to help the international coalition, while other countries from the Gulf region, like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, each promised to make one billion dollar investments in the Iraqi reconstruction.”


SLOVENIA:  "Without More Influence, No One Will Donate Money"


Veso Stojanov opined in left-of-center Delo (10/24):  “Taking a closer look at this diplomatic sweet talk, we can see that the primary goal of the Madrid Donors Conference is to improve the worsening public reputation that President Bush has enjoyed at home.  The American administration has worked hard to present America’s unilateral adventure in Iraq as a multilateral operation....  The Iraqi adventure has become an increasingly heavy political burden for President Bush and his hawks....  The Madrid Donors Conference is an extremely good opportunity for the Bush administration to sell the story to the U. S. public of Iraq as a problem of the international community, and direct responsibility away from George Bush....  The world has sent a signal.  But it has been directed toward Washington rather than Baghdad....  At the conference, most countries are represented by financial ministers and lower governmental officials. This is another signal to Washington not to consider the conference...a victory.  The world will symbolically participate in the reconstruction of Iraq, but all burdens resulting from the U. S. unilateral operation in Iraq cannot be distributed among the countries of the whole world.”


SPAIN:  "And When For Ethiopia?"


Conservative La Razon wrote (10/27):  "It would be good if the money that has been given, the famous donations, were managed by an international, serious organization, and not just by the Americans that, as we have seen, don't think much of others but a lot about their own....  As the Iraq 'Revenue Watch Project' of multimillionaire George Soros has publicly condemned, Bremer is postponing verification of expenditures.  So oil revenues are today controlled by the interim authority of the coalition, that is, by Bremer and his cabinet of eleven 'fair' men, of whom only one is Iraqi.  The oil money is being spent as Bremer thinks best, with no international control, transparency or auditors.  We suppose that (the money) will be correctly spent.  But now is not the time for supposing.  The oil money and the money donated by the international community to the Iraqi people must be correctly used and with the controls demanded by the competent international organizations....  What's worst is that the 'Bremer-boys,' besides managing the American funds and the oil money without explanations, also want to control the aid funds from other donor countries....  More than a humanitarian forum, this seems like a market, and for this writer it is scandalous that it's trying to pull off a good deal with Iraq....  What the 'liberators' now want is to cancel Iraqi debt.  They say this because they know that U.S. has nothing to forgive, because France, Japan and Russia are the main debtors of Iraq."


"Under Construction"


Left-of-center El País commented (10/24):  "Today, the final amounts which will be given by each country will be stated, but it does not seem that there will be a real fight for generosity, above all due to the U.S. decision to directly control its contribution of 20 billion dollars, which actually becomes a grant for its companies, some of them closely linked to prominent members of the Bush administration....  What is talked about is Iraq's reconstruction, but, actually, it is about building a new country, and not simply erasing the effects of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship and three devastating wars.  Certainly, poorest Africa, and many countries that are always forgotten, will look at Madrid with envy. They would also like to be 'rebuilt'."


"Fundraising For Freedom In Iraq"


Conservative ABC observed (10/24):  "The Donors Conference is backing for the gigantic task of putting a destroyed economy on its feet, although it is only the first step in a long path, full of difficulties....  It is not an easy task, and not all the decisions made by the allied forces at the first moment were effective.  But, once the international division in the UN is solved, there is a great opportunity to heal the wounds, do one's utmost to rebuild infrastructures and public services--which were not only destroyed by the attacks of the allied forces, but, mainly, by decades of dictatorship's neglect and barbarism--and prepare the path for the Iraqi economy to have the role belonging to it according to its real resources.  That opportunity should not be wasted and, for the most part, depends on what is agreed upon in Madrid."


"The Important Risks Of Investing In Iraq"


Independent daily El Mundo remarked (10/24):  "The NGO Christian Aid accused Iraq's interim government, which is controlled by the U.S., of not giving account of 4 of the 5 billion of the Iraqi Development Fund....  This shows the lack of transparency of the system set up in Iraq.  Transparency is essential for money to start arriving [in Iraq] at last."


"Aid For Iraq"


Business Gaceta de los Negocios wrote (10/24):  "Not only governments, but also private companies, may have incentives for investing in Iraq and, like in the past, French companies will be present in the Iraqi sectors regardless of their government's decision.  For the task to be successful, it is essential to establish economic priorities and have security."




SAUDI ARABIA:   "Pay Great Attention To Rebuilding Iraq"


London’s influential, ASharq Al-Awsat carried an op-ed commentary by the paper’s editor Abdulrahman Al-Rashed (10/26):  "The rebuilding of Iraq, as proposed, will bridge 20 years of development into only five years, perhaps less.  Its implications, if successful, will be great.  From our experience we see a real link, not a theoretical one, between development and political stability.  We need not  present evidence here that economic problems in the Arab world were the reason behind political instability and emergence of destructive movements.  Therefore, the American move to rebuild Iraq, alongside political reform, was a good step for the benefit of the Iraqi people, the Arabs of the region, and certainly will bring stability....  The Americans have to prove that they are capable of building a modern state not only by delivering lectures to the students of the region but also to prove their good intentions by rebuilding a state such as Iraq."


"The Kingdom And Reconstruction Of Iraq"


Mecca’s conservative, Al-Nadwa editorialized (10/26):  "For the Iraqi people to benefit from the generous aid pledged at the Madrid conference, there has to be some immediate plan to bring Iraq back to an independent state.  This can only be done if an autonomous Iraqi government is formed and is able to exercise control over the country’s affairs without any foreign involvement."


"The Madrid Conference"


Jeddah’s English language daily Saudi Gazette (10/26):  "In the long run, if the Iraqi economy is revived largely as a result of Washington's efforts and some semblance of political order is restored, then critics of America’s policies are going to look somewhat foolish."


The Meaning of the Saudi Contribution in Rebuilding Iraq


Riyadh's moderate, Al-Jazira editorialized (10/25):  "By this [contribution], the Kingdom has disturbed the monopoly of American companies and the companies of those countries which participated in the war against Iraq....  Saudi companies will benefit from opening a window for export of Saudi goods to Iraq."


"Rebuilding Of Iraq:  Firm Commitment"


Dammam's moderate, Al-Yaum opined (10/25):  "The Kingdom has taken honorable stands in supporting the Iraqi people in many cases.  Therefore, it was not strange for the Kingdom to decide to participate in funding trade and the resumption of exports, while at the same time working to rebuild Iraq.  This reasserts the Kingdom's long standing position toward supporting Arabic and Islamic nations in overcoming their crises and is the real meaning of the Kingdom's stand on reactivating Arabic and Islamic brotherhood and applying it to concrete programs and projects."


LEBANON:  "When The Donors Conference Changes Into A Security Tool"


Muhammad Baker Sherri declared in independent, non-sectarian Ad-Diyar (10/24):  “This donor conference in Madrid to rebuild Iraq which was destroyed by the United States, does not only aim at displaying President Bush to his voters as a person who wants to save some money for the U.S. taxpayer, but as a person who wants to hold the whole world responsible for what went on in Iraq.  Bush also wants to be able to get his troops to stay longer in Iraq, but with an international umbrella.  Kofi Annan’s...statement that countries should not link their assistance to Iraq to Iraq’s regaining its sovereignty is a boost to the U.S. strategy that aims to stay in Iraq for the longest time possible.”




CHINA:  "Iraq’s Future Still Murky Despite Massive Aid Donations"


The official English-language newspaper China Daily reported (10/27):  “The two-day international donors’ conference...rais[ed] more donations than expected.  More aid promises, however, do not immediately promise a bright future for the war-torn country’s rebuilding as several key factors remain uncertain....  In short, a ‘better than normal’ outcome of the donors conference does not provide enough assurances for a bright future of Iraq’s reconstruction process.  No matter what prospects it is going to have, one sure thing is that it will continue to be a focus of international attention in the years to come.”


"What’s Behind The Large Gap In Assistance?"


Lu Hong commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao)  (10/24):  “Although the international community committed only a small amount of money for Iraqi reconstruction, ...the meeting was still a successful one.  It was convened in a humanitarian and peaceful spirit and sent out a clear message to the U.S.: it must return to the UN framework to settle international issues.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Fear Of Hollow Aid Pledges Looms Large"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post foreign editor, Peter Kammerer, wrote (10/26):  "U.S. President George W. Bush and other senior members of his administration have hailed the two-day meeting in Madrid as a success, saying the U.S.$13 billion pledged guaranteed prosperity for Iraqis....  But observers predicated that a situation similar to Afghanistan--where the majority of pledges at a donors' conference in Japan last year failed to materialize--was likely.  The confusing split of promises into loans and aid grants was unsatisfactory for Iraq, already burdened by debts of U.S.$120 billion."


JAPAN:  "Restoration Of Security And Increased Aid Necessary"


Business daily Nihon Keizai commented (10/27):  "The Madrid donors conference was a partial success....  ,Although the pledged amount fell short of the $55 billion that is projected to be needed, it still exceeded the anticipated pledge total.  Funds raised at the conference should be spent on improving Iraq's infrastructure in a visible manner that gives direct benefit to the Iraqi people.  Iraq's reconstruction hinges on the restoration of security and increased assistance from the international community."     


"Japan Should Do Its Utmost To Help With Iraq's Rebuilding"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (10/26):  "Japan is now the second largest donor after the U.S.  At a time when the U.S./UK administration of postwar Iraq is facing difficulty, it is only natural that Japan, as a close U.S. ally, should do its utmost to assist in Iraq's rebuilding. The stabilization of Iraq is also essential to the national interests of Japan, which is dependent on the Middle East for about 90 percent of its oil imports."


"Japan Pledges Generous Aid Despite Its Economic Woes"


An editorial in the liberal Asahi observed (10/27):  "The outcome of the Madrid donors conference has been called a U.S. diplomatic victory by the Bush administration.  But the U.S. should be aware that some of donors, who pledged more than 33 billion USD, while eager to assist in Iraq's rebuilding, are skeptical about the U.S. justification of the war in Iraq....  Now is the time to map out concrete plans to rebuild Iraq, where reconstruction work has been hampered by the deteriorating security situation.  As things stand, there is no immediate progress in the war-devastated nation's reconstruction.  To make the best use of international financial contributions pledged at the Madrid conference, the U.S. and Britain should turn over the reins of government to the Iraqi people at an early date."


INDONESIA:  "Madrid Conference Produces Financial Commitment"


Leading Independent Kompas commented (10/25):  “In terms of the promises given by donor countries, the Oct.23-24 conference in Madrid could be regarded as a success.  The U.S., as the initiator of the conference, was capable of persuading and influencing a number of countries and institutions to provide financial assistance for the rebuilding of Iraq....  However, it must be acknowledged that many countries have no other choices in facing the pressure, domination, and hegemony of the U.S.  Many countries were forced to obey the U.S. pressure in order to avoid U.S. intervention in the cooperation of economic, trade, and military issues.  The U.S. is the giant market, which many countries in the world are targeting.  If the U.S. closes its market against the countries its dislikes, that country will suffer economically....  However, it seems that the U.S. and its allies will not be immediately enjoy their benefits.  Meanwhile, people foresee the U.S. will have a bitter pill to swallow in Iraq as fighting against the U.S. continues to escalate.”


MALAYSIA:  "Warily Frugal"


Government-infleunced English Language daily New Straits Times editorialized (10/27):  "A lot of money has been pledged for Iraq at the first donors conference in Madrid but lots more is still needed for the huge task of rebuilding the country.  Hopefully, the situation in Iraq will change and improve to encourage more international donors to come forward with money and troops.  Conspicuously absent from the donor list in Madrid were France, Germany and Russia, all major opponents of the Iraq war.  The contrast with Afghanistan, where pledges of reconstruction aid were made by all major countries when the war was over, is telling.  The ouster of the Taliban was backed by all major powers and the UN, while the Iraqi war was waged by the U.S. and Britain without international support.  Iraq is still occupied without a UN mandate and as long as this situation persists it will be difficult to draw aid from more donors.  Security in Iraq is still volatile, as evidenced in the latest attack on a Baghdad hotel where visiting U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying.  It will be some time yet before Iraqis run their own country.  As things stand, reconstruction funds will be controlled by the American authorities and there is no telling whether lucrative contracts will be handed out to companies connected to the White House."




PAKISTAN:  "Reconstruction of Iraq:  An Encouraging Start"


An editorial in the Lahore-based independent Urdu daily Din held (10/26):  "Although not many hopes were being pinned on the Madrid Donors Conference--owing to differences between the European countries, and Iraq’s domestic situation--participants demonstrated more generosity and interest than expected....  UN Secretary General has rightly said that the promises of financial assistance are less than what the UN expects to be spent on Iraqi reconstruction, but it is a start nonetheless....  The Iraqi Governing Council has said that there are several projects that could be  undertaken by Iraqi firms, but the U.S. military authority did not consult the Council before awarding these contracts secretly to American and British companies.  Ideally, the Governing Council and the Iraqi interim government should have the final say in the utilization of  reconstruction funds, not the U.S. administrative authority.  Otherwise a major portion of this money will go back to the developed countries.  However, for now, the beginning made in the Donors Conference can be termed encouraging."


"Rebuilding Iraq"


The center-right national English daily, The Nation argued (10/26):  "The funds are broadly divided into two categories: loans and grants.  Washington, indisputably the principal wrecker of the country's infrastructure, having engineered international sanctions against it that lasted 13 agonizing years and later undertaking its illegal invasion, has pledged the highest amount of about $20 billion, but a substantial part of it is linked to contracts for U.S. firms."


"Post-Pledging Problems"


Centrist national English daily, The News observed (10/26):  "Over 37 billion dollars are estimated to have been pledged for the reconstruction of Iraq at the Madrid donors’ conference--a remarkable success considering that there had been suggestions to the U.S. to call it off to avoid an embarrassingly low turnout and contributions....  Questions are being asked about the non-transparent manner in which money is being spent in Iraq.  Much of it is going into over-inflated contracts to American companies, and the British charity Christian Aid estimates conservatively that 4 billion dollars of Iraqi oil money may have disappeared into a black hole.  Plugging this credibility gap would, thus, seem a far greater challenge for the U.S. than the occupation of Iraq and wringing money out of reluctant donors for its reconstruction."


"Madrid Pledges"


The Islamabad rightist English daily, Pakistan Observer commented (10/26):  "There should be no illusion about the fact that the disbursement of the pledged amount will squarely depend on the U.S. conduct.  An attempt to consolidate its occupation and delaying tactics to withdraw its forces from Iraq on any pretext will obviously discourage the donor countries and agencies to fulfill their pledges."




CANADA:  "The Three Scrooges And Iraq's Rebuilding"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (10/25):  "Whatever quarrels there were over the invasion of Iraq, it is in everyone's interest to keep the country from falling into chaos--a failure that would destabilize the whole region, if not the world.  If they truly care about Iraq's future, the three Scrooges [France, Germany and Russia] should get over their postwar pique, get into the spirit of Madrid and open their wallets like everyone else."


"We're In This Together"


The nationalist Ottawa Citizen remarked (10/24):  "Unfortunately, the war on terror will take more lives, soldier and civilian, but let those lives not be lost because of a refusal to admit the true nature of that war.  Islamist terrorists oppose not just the United States, but anything representative of the West and its secular, humanist traditions.  The UN was targeted because what it stands for--human rights, freedom and tolerance--are mainstays of western society.  This message should be heeded at the Iraq reconstruction conference currently under way in Madrid....  Some countries, including France, have said they won't provide any more money beyond what they've already offered....  At the same time, though, to refuse to help the U.S. in a fight which affects the entire West is extremely shortsighted."


MEXICO:  "Madrid’s Donors"


Alfonso Elizondo asserted in independent El Norte (10/25):  "It's logical to think that the majority of countries represented in Madrid’s donors forum are not very enthusiastic about giving money away to create a fund that, although it will probably be managed by the UN, will not be applied to the reconstruction process, but to humanitarian actions, where there will be no contracts for their companies, and in some cases, such as China, Russia and France, where they will not even recover the investment made in Iraq before the U.S. invasion....  While in appearance the brilliant club of Madrid donors meets a humanitarian function, just below that luminous epidermis lies the historically Puritan obsession of U.S. governments to pretend that democracy and plurality underlie the practice of their foreign policy.  Now more than ever, when the latest UN resolution has legitimized the invasion and occupation of Iraq, this small Spanish operetta is performed to celebrate another superficial return to legality.”


PARAGUAY:  "Donors Conference"


Paraguay's third-largest and left-leaning daily "Noticias editorialized (10/26):  "Success? Failure?  Both things are being said of the conference that was held in Madrid.  It was a success because 77 countries met and demonstrated much interest.  It was a failure because no one wanted to give money....  Then why did they meet?...  Because they love to be seen."


Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere

This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home