Wise After The Event
So, it's over. "Shock and awe" have done their thing and the world's only superpower has shown that it is - just that. The war is won but what of the objectives. Others wiser than us will now pose that awful question about the application of democracy - "what to do when the choice of the people is a government that is unacceptable to much of the international community"?
Is it feasible that in five years the effects of this latest war will have rippled irresistibly across the Middle East leaving in place democratically elected clerics in the Iranian mode? There are some who take the view that there is already evidence of this in a Middle East Country where, in the opinion of many, the choice of the people is a man with a tarnished past leading a society that was changed indelibly after the success of the counties armed forces in a series of wars culminating in 1968. In this place, leaders of a party that murdered police, troops and civilians in order to reform their country and to bring about their aims now assert - with no sense of irony or shame - that "terrorism is always wrong". This same country has nuclear weapons and having kidnapped the man who told the world about them has held him in solitary confinement for more than a decade. Do we really believe that such people, fiercely committed and not minded to compromise would, if faced with a tough choice of keeping "their" country as it is or having changed imposed upon it would not consider the use of their weapons of mass destruction even against governments and peoples who have been their most staunch allies?
What happens if a government in favour of Hamas or Iran emerges as the people's choice in the new Iraq? So, the coalition has uncorked the bottle and is allowing the smoke to billow upwards. Will it be a genial genie or a terrible Djiinn that takes shape; a crescent of countries that are fundamentally Islamic and elected by the will of the people, running from north of Afghanistan to Indonesia?
The primary interest of the café is however rather about jobs and employment than these weighty issues although there can be no doubt but that one impacts on t'other.
Employment is about two things - getting paid and getting the work. As far as getting paid is concerned we read that Iraq already has debts, and claims pending, totalling more than 500$Billion. Even at 2,000,000 barrels a day that will take some paying off! Moreover, it seems that somewhere between 25 $Billion and 100$Billion is going to be spent rebuild the country and it does not appear likely that the taxpayers of the coalition will be content to pay those bills on behalf of a country that has vast palaces and starving people on the same street.
Work depends on contracts and contracts depend on getting paid. Contracts also depend on an authority that can award them to third parties under contractual arrangements that will stick by having the force of law behind them - like the oil contracts of Saddam's Iraq with Russian and the French perhaps?
Contracts given to businesses like Bechtel and the other American giants working in KSA in the 70's and 80's created enormous structures - literally camps in the desert- where multinational workforces were housed, fed and put to work. We know because some of us now with the café were there and helped recruit and deploy people from the US, UK and the rest of Europe as well as Thai's, Philippine's, Indian's, Pakistani's etc, etc. They were there to build an infrastructure, after the war and 25 years of Saddam will the task be any less and will the needs be so very different?
Clearly a start must be made on the infrastructure of the modern state - transport, water, power, sewage, and communications. The development of the oilfields must follow quickly in the wake of that phase not only in the narrow interests of Iraq but also because of the needs of the global economy. Then we have logistics, education and so on.
It should therefore be possible to apply a little brainpower, use our previous experience to the benefit of the café society and help identify opportunities - for business and for individuals that is, after all well within the bailiwick of the café and our experienced, if ancient, team. More later.