Daniel Drezner joins the “What were they thinking?” bandwagon with respect to the decision to announce that no contracts will be given to those who didn’t support that war. He links a terrific piece by Bill Kristol and Bob Kagan in today’s Standard:

President Bush, we suspect, is going to overrule the Pentagon’s attempt to exclude from the bidding for Iraq reconstruction contracts certain countries that have opposed U.S. policy in Iraq. He might as well do it sooner rather than later, so as to minimize the diplomatic damage done by the Pentagon’s heavy-handed and counterproductive action.

We hold no brief for the Chirac, Schroeder, or Putin governments. We are also very much in favor of finding ways to work more closely with other governments — such as those of Britain, Spain and Poland — who have courageously stood with us, and who hold the promise of continuing to be more helpful to us. We have even been critical of the Bush Administration for a certain lack of imagination in finding ways to work constructively with these friendly governments. But this particular effort by the Pentagon to reward friends and punish enemies is stupid, and should be abandoned.

A deviously smart American administration would have quietly distributed contracts for rebuilding Iraq as it saw fit, without any announced policy of discrimination. At the end of the day, it would be clear that opponents of American policy didn’t fare too well in the bidding process. Message delivered, but with a certain subtlety.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kevin Drum says:

    Oh hell, that’s exactly what I said. Does that mean I actually agree with Kristol and Kagan about something?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Apparently. Your official Non-Con membership card should be on its way to you now.

  3. Mr. TidyBowl says:

    Can somebody please explain to me the “WHY” to why we should be offering contracts to the French/Germans/Russians?

    I’ve heard plenty of lamenting on the fact that we didn’t. I’ve heard plenty of people saying that we should. But nobody has made any argument (let alone a good argument) as to WHY we should.

    Personally, I subscribe to the opinion that if we do offer these contracts to the French/Germans/Russians we say in no uncertain terms – feel free to oppose us on anything we do – we’ll come back to the table, hat in hand (as it were), to include you.

    The French/Germans/Russians have risked nothing – have paid no costs, and have shed no blood – and yet some suggest we should offer them the potential windfall of these contracts.

    Somebody, anybody, please explain the WHY!

  4. How about simply awarding contracts on the basis of who will do the best job at the most reasonable cost?

  5. Mr. TidyBowl says:

    “How about simply awarding contracts on the basis of who will do the best job at the most reasonable cost?”

    And who makes that decision?

  6. I disagree – I “suspect” Bush won’t reverse the deicision. It would be the same as Bush saying “Ya know, those terrorists killing all those Americans wasn’ THAT big a deal. Let’s call this whole War on Terrorism off”.

    To go back on this policy would be going against what he has always stated – about being with us or against us. And it would teach other nations that you can go against the U.S. and have no consequences whatsoever.

  7. Paul says:

    He might as well do it sooner rather than later, so as to minimize the diplomatic damage done

    Huh? “minimize the diplomatic damage?”

    What’s going to happen, France and Germany won’t do a damn thing to help us and will oppose us every step of the way?

    WOW! There’s a hollow threat!

    I’ve never seen so many people that I respect cling to this fantasy that France and Germany might do something civil.

    Accept reality. France and Germany are not our allies. They once found us useful, that’s all.

    It stuns me how many of you are drinking the Kool-aid that France and Germany will help us. AND BTW if we pay them a few billion it is not called diplomacy* it is called bribery.



    At this stage of the game you can’t even write it off as check book diplomacy.